fat free opinions on a food centric life

Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Hazelnuts

The weather here has been remarkable for the past few days with temperatures reaching nearly 80.  Blue skies stretch on forever, and because it's so dry, visibility is about as clear as I've seen it in a while.  I've had the patio door open during the day, and a few windows open at night to move the air around and keep the house from getting stuffy.

But wonder of all wonders?

I actually got off my rump and went for a walk today, pounding the asphalt of my old route back and forth through the neighborhood across the street — the one that affords me a breathtaking view of the San Diego skyline, Mission Bay, and the beach each time I make it to the end of a street.  Down the hill and back takes me about 45 or 50 minutes, and I'm proud to say that although I haven't walked for more than a month — make that two –  everything seems just fine.  No aches or pains — yet.  When I got back home, I put a salad together just for me.

Although I finally broke down yesterday and went to the grocery store for some produce and other necessities, I did have half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the scarlet runner bean soup I made last week. 

Wait.  Squash in a salad? 

That's what I thought until I saw the piece in next month's issue of Food & Wine in "Six Hearty Winter Salads."  The Butternut Squash Salad with Hazelnuts had my name all over it.  And if you're too chilled about the prospect of a salad in the wintertime — it's a warm salad.

How can you refuse?  Mumbling about not liking squash doesn't count.

  Warm winter salad

Warm Winter Salad with Butternut Squash and Hazelnuts

1 c. butternut squash, diced and roasted
4-1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. hazelnuts, roasted
2 c. arugula
1/8 c. prosciutto, minced
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T hazelnut oil

Roast the butternut squash with some olive oil, salt & pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Toss
squash with 3 tsp. olive oil and season with salt and
pepper. Pour onto a small baking pan and roast about 20 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, roast hazelnuts in a
cast iron skillet on medium heat until fragrant. Cool and coarsely chop.

In the same skillet, heat the prosciutto until just beginning to brown.  Add the rest of the olive oil, the hazelnut oil, and the vinegar.  Stir ingredients and remove from the heat.

Mix all the salad ingredients in a medium bowl...

In a large bowl, toss arugula, red onions,
hazelnuts and squash. 
Pour prosciutto mixture over and lightly toss again.  Mound salad on a plate and season if necessary with more salt and pepper.

Warm enough for a salad on the patio here...

Notes:

  • I can't say enough how completely and deliciously satisfying this salad is.  But I'm sort of making up for a lifetime without butternut squash and just about everything I put it in is heavenly.  Seriously.
  • The salad is designed to be warm, but I, being moi, decided to roast the squash early in the day and then let it cool until I was ready for lunch.
  • I think the roasting time is a bit long, but it will depend on the size of your squash pieces.  Now that I think of it, so much depends on the size of my squash pieces.  Routinely.  Just kidding.  Checking to see if you're actually reading.  Learned this from one of my super smart students…
  • The original recipe calls for sliced prosciutto, but I liked the tiny dice from Citterio that I buy at Trader Joe's for this.  It made sense to saute, then add the oil & vinegar.  Quick and easy.
  • A perfectly loaded fork really tells the story of this salad.  Oh, jeez.  I could eat this again and again.  Peppery arugula, spicy red onions, crunchy hazelnuts, salty prosciutto, sweet squash…do I need to go on? 
  • I had squash left over, so another salad tomorrow?
  • You know brightly colored veggies are extremely good for you, right?  I feel a lecture coming on…

Ahhh....January in San Diego....it's Paradise, you know.