Monday, February 28, 2011

Warm Kabocha Squash Salad

I will not even pretend to have been the brainchild behind such a creation.  I had just been reading Sunday Suppers at Lucques when a bluish squash resembling a turban showed up in my veggie box.  Chef Suzanne Goin features this squash in many recipes in this beautiful book But this salad had intrigued me right away because it is a feast for all senses.  Crunchy, nutty, smoky, creamy, colorful.  It's all there. The idea of it when I saw the recipe captured my attention, but when I created it myself, I fell in love.

I don't necessarily love squash. Even without sugar or maple syrup it's really too sweet for my tastes.  (I will pick cheese over chocolate every time if given the option.)  But growing up in the South where squash and sweet potatoes are regularly combined with any number of sweet components (marshmallows, syrup, brown sugar, etc.) I never acquired a taste for it.  I started roasting it to make my butternut squash risotto and I realized that in savory applications I like it.

So with all the different elements, this salad takes the sweet nature and deemphasizes it.  I have changed a few elements including the type of greens (I had arugula and used instead of chef Goin's dandelion greens and aged Gouda in place of Rondal.)  Enjoy along with a roasted chicken or grilled fish, but my favorite way is simply by itself with a glass of spicy zinfandel (no, not the pink sweet stuff, the real red varietal, please) or a cold California chardonnay.  

CWYG Stats

Veggie Box - squash, arugula

CWYG List items - shallots, bacon, pecans, sherry vinegar, aged Gouda (could also use cheddar, blue or feta)

Warm Kabocha Salad
based on recipe from Chef Suzanne Goin

1 kabocha squash, (or sub whatever winter squash you have)
olive oil for baking sheet
salt and red pepper flakes to taste
fresh thyme leaves
chopped fresh rosemary (if you have it)
4 oz bacon, cut into 1/2" strips
1/2 cup pecans (walnuts, sliced almonds, pine nuts)
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 lb arugula, stems removed and torn into pieces
2 tbsps sherry vinegar
fresh cracked black pepper
chunk of well-aged Gouda

Heat oven to 375 degree oven. Cut the top and bottom off the squash then remove the skin by cutting down lengthwise just along the edge.  Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds.  Cut into wedges and lay on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and rosemary.  Roast until gold brown on the edges and soft. 

While the squash roasts, you can also toast the pecans or whatever but you are using.  (Watch them, though, they will burn very quickly.) Cook bacon in a large saute pan until crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain reserving the bacon fat.  Add the shallots and fry til crispy.  Remove to a paper towel again reserving bacon fat.  Quickly whisk in sherry vinegar and let reduce for a minute.

On each of two plates, scatter arugula and then arrange squash, bacon, shallots and pecans.  Drizzle with the dressing and shave cheese over the top.  (If using blue or feta, simply crumble it over the finished salad.)

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