We are a family that loves our salad. But I never served it year round because the greens familiar to me tended to look a little sad when the warm weather season ended… You know, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, those were my comfort zone.
Until I moved to Austin and started picking up veggies grown at a local farm once a week… And found myself looking online at “WhatsThatVeggie.com” to identify potential dinner items…
It was kinda embarrassing given my age and the number of years I have been cooking dinner and all that. I have to admit that at first some items never made it to the dinner table at all – I just couldn’t find a way to deal with them. (Not that I didn’t try…)
Winter greens, or bitter greens, were definitely in that category. Have you ever mixed up a creamy buttermilk ranch dressing and then poured it over winter greens? It will curl your hair it is so bad! My family calmly informed me that they would not be eating salad that tasted like raw grassy weeds no matter how much dressing I poured over it!
But my conscience wouldn’t let me ignore the happy healthy greens that kept showing up each week. At first I tried to trade them out for other items, but some weeks there was nothing to trade and some weeks I was too embarrassed to trade them out in front of other veggie lovers cooing in delight over the fantastic fresh greens!
Then one day it hit me. Maybe I needed a dressing that could stand up to (and disguise, which I am not above…) my new-found salad greens. I had a long growing season ahead of me, and no romaine in sight…
Fortunately my internet searching produced the Ultimate Vinaigrette, and winter greens became my friend! They are yummy with radishes and carrots, pears and apples, and here roasted butternut squash and pecans!
Who knew? I am happy to tell you this vinaigrette is delicious, this salad is delicious and the roasted butternut squash and toasted pecans are to die for. And I discovered I am able to learn something new. Thank heavens for that!
½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 cups peeled chopped butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 sliced radishes
1 small thinly sliced shallot
6 cups winter salad greens (I used arugula and curly endive)
For the Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a heavy baking sheet and roast until the squash is browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Put the sliced shallots in a small bowl, cover with hot water, and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Combine the dressing ingredients by whisking vigorously or by using an immersion blender.
Combine greens and shallots. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss lightly with dressing and transfer to serving platter. Add pecans, squash and radishes to bowl and toss very lightly with more dressing. Add to greens on serving dish. Serve extra dressing on the side.
Ultimate Vinaigrette adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence.
Salad from Fine Cooking.