While snowed in last week, I decided to make a dish to brighten things up. What’s local and colorful these days? Squash! I have a store at hand. I decided that slices of butternut would make perfect “flames” around a tasty sun, though acorn would certainly work. And neither need be peeled for this recipe.
Winter Sun Salad
Yield: serves 4 as a side dish; 2 as a main dish
1 large butternut squash
8 oz. kale or chard, rinsed and roughly chopped
5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Italian vinaigrette (see below)
ground black pepper
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 2 sheet pans, parchment
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place feta and vinaigrette in a resealable pint container and shake to coat. Allow cheese to marinate as you prepare the other salad components.
Wash the squash. Lay it on its side on a cutting board and slice off stem ends. Cut squash horizontally to remove long neck from bulbous bottom. Cut bottom in half vertically and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Remove any large chunks of flesh attached to the seeds, but do not rinse seeds. Place seeds in a cup with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir to coat.
Cut squash neck in half the long way. Slice neck and bottom halves into crescents about 1/4” thick. Place parchment paper on pans and coat with oil. Place squash slices on sheet pans. Then turn all squash slices over, so both sides are oiled. Sprinkle squash with ground black pepper and place in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn slices over, bake for about 10 minutes more. Remove pans from oven. Turn oven down to 350°.
Spread seeds on a fresh sheet of parchment on one of the pans and salt liberally. Bake for 10 minutes, turn seeds over and then bake for about 10 more minutes, until lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and remove the parchment paper the seeds are on from the pan, so the seeds do not continue to cook.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized fry pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and softening, about 2 minutes.
Sauté the damp kale in the olive oil until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Divide cooked greens among serving dishes.
Arrange squash crescents around edge of plate or bowl as shown at left.
Divide marinated feta among dishes, centering it on greens. Sprinkle seeds over the dishes and enjoy.
Easy Italian Vinaigrette
My standard dressing for tossed salads also works great as a marinate for grilling. Though I sometimes blend my own herbs to create an Italian seasoning mix, I quite like Citarella’s Italian Seasoning, which includes oregano, basil, marjoram and rosemary.
Yield: 1 cup
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a sealable jar and shake to combine.
Add salt to taste.
Can be doubled and quadrupled.
Store in refrigerator between uses.
This recipe is vegetarian and naturally gluten-free.