I’m calling it. It is OFFICIALLY FALL! I have broken out the butternut squash, so it must be true.
The trees here are starting to change. I am incredibly (to the point of obnoxiously) excited about it. This will be our first real fall in ten years. I love fall, and I’ve missed it during our years in the South. When we told people we were moving to Indiana, I’d say that nine out of ten of them (possibly 9 1/2) replied with, “Oh, really? You know it snows there, right?” Yes, we’re well aware that there will be snow to deal with come winter time, and we’re OK with that. There is something to be said for experiencing four REAL seasons in a year. And fall, to me, is just the best. There is nothing like the beauty of fall, the experiences of fall, and I love crisp fall weather. I’m downright giddy over the upcoming season.
I saw this salad in a compilation issue of Fine Cooking, and figured it was a wonderful way to ring in the new season. It’s light and fresh, but still has those fall, savory flavors.
I started by roasting thin slices of butternut squash. Before popping them in the oven, I brushed them with some olive oil on both sides, and sprinkled them with some fresh, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper.
Each slice was about 1/4 of an inch thick. Next time, I may slice them just a little thicker. We had this as a main dish salad, and thicker squash would just bulk it up a bit more. As a side salad, the thin slices worked perfectly.
As the squash roasted, filling my kitchen with the savory aroma of the season, I sizzled up some bacon, and whisked together my quick balsamic vinaigrette.
The squash came out of the oven after about 25 minutes, and it was cooked perfectly, and toasty and caramelized around the edges. I placed four circles of squash on each of our dinner plates.
Then, I tossed together a head of chopped escarole and two peeled, and sliced, pears with that balsamic dressing.
I heaped a hefty pile of the escarole and pears on top of the roasted squash, sprinkled the top with some crumbled bacon, and added a wedge of Maytag blue cheese to each plate.
It was a delicious, light fall dinner, and all of the fall flavors worked together so well. We really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to make it again to celebrate the season.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH PEARS AND BLUE CHEESE
Adapted from Fine Cooking
- 1 large butternut squash, the longer the neck part, the better
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- kosher salt and pepper
- 6 slices center cut bacon, cooked til crisp, and crumbled
- 1½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 medium head escarole (about 1 lb.) trimmed and chopped into 1½ inch pieces
- 2 medium firm-ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou suggested) peeled, cored, and sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 6 oz. good blue cheese (Maytag or Stilton)
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450*F.
- Cut off the narrow top portion of the squash, close to where it widens. Peel the narrow section (the neck) and slice it into ¼ - ½ inch rounds. Save the base of the squash for another use.
- Brush both sides of the squash rounds with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, and spread it in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the rounds with the rosemary, salt, and pepper.
- Roast the squash, turning once if you think it's necessary (I didn't), until softened and browned, about 25 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss the chopped escarole with the sliced pears and enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly.
- Arrange the cooked squash on the serving plates. Heap a pile of the pears and escarole on top of the squash. Sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and tuck a wedge or two of blue cheese into the salad before serving.