Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Salad

I made this salad with my Aunt Jane for Thanksgiving dinner this year and it was a great addition to the table. Next time, though, I might save it for a time when you can really keep the rest of the food hot in the kitchen during the salad course--the rest of our food ended up getting a bit cold! But, it was still a very tasty salad that I would really recommend...lots of strong flavors but they still go together well with nothing overpowering anything else. It also looks very elegant with the endive leaves and would be a great start to any dinner party. With the jewel-toned orange of the butternut squash and red of the cranberries, it's also perfect for the holidays.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Serves 5

1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Olive oil
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (packed) dark brown sugar
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded
Coarse kosher salt
2 heads of Belgian endive, root ends trimmed, leaves separated into individual leaves
1 heart of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 unpeeled firm apple, halved, cored, cut into very thin slices
4 ounces blue cheese (such as Maytag), coarsely crumbled
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Freshly ground black pepper

For dressing:
Whisk vinegar and lemon juice in small bowl; gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

For salad:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush 2 large rimmed baking sheets with oil; spray with nonstick spray. Whisk vinegar and sugar in small bowl; set aside. Cut squash halves crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange squash in single layer on prepared sheets; brush with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Roast 5 minutes; brush with sugar-vinegar mixture. Turn squash over and brush with sugar-vinegar mixture; roast 5 minutes. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with small knife, about 15 minutes longer. Cool on sheets and let stand at room temperature.

Arrange 4 endive leaves on each plate. Coarsely chop any remaining endive and toss with the romaine lettuce and dressing in a large salad bowl. Place butternut squash slices in center of each plate. Scatter apples, cheese, and cranberries over squash. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

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