Sunday, October 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Salad with Herbs--For Tomorrow's Lunch

I had a very different idea for today's post--something sweet for a weekend--but because of heavy rains my local farmers' market was canceled and I could not get good apples for my recipe. And since I like to cook and talk about seasonal food, today it will be about squash.

All I learned about squash--either from others or by experimenting--I did while leaving here in the US. My favorite is still the delicate squash flan which in fact is spicy but delicate in texture and which my guests always enjoy. Recently, I also came up with a nice recipe for pierogi with squash filling. But, since this is a long weekend, you may prefer this is easy salad, especially if it is your turn to make it, rather than kneading a dough for pierogi, which unfortunately are quite difficult and messy to make.

There are many squash salads and I noticed that each year they are becoming more popular and squash is increasingly appreciated as the vegetable that is most rich in vitamin A, for its reputation to lower your cholesterol, and its low-calorie content.

Actually, this salad is quite rich and nutritious and it can make for an entire vegetarian lunch dish. I have never seen a recipe that would be exactly as this one but, like many other squash salads, it includes onion and feta cheese, which spice up the delicate and sweet squash.

Butternut Squash Salad with Herbs
(Serves four)

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes,
3 tbsp olive oil,
4-6 shallots, peeled and cut in quarters,
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar,
2-3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves,
1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme leaves,
1 small garlic, minced,
1/2 cup roasted, chopped walnuts,
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp red chili pepper,
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Put the squash in a medium bowl. Mix oils and 2 tbsp of vinegar, pour over the squash and rub it in the sauce.

3. Place the squash on a large roasting pan, salt gently but not too much as feta will add extra saltiness, and bake for about 30 minutes until the squash becomes soft and brown and shallots almost caramelized.
4. Remove the squash from the oven, sprinkle with thyme and let it cool.
5. In a small, bowl mix chopped parsley, garlic, walnuts and chili pepper and toss with squash. Divide squash between 4 plates.
6. Drizzle the salad with an extra tbsp of vinegar, sprinkle with feta and pepper, and serve with white breads.

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