Now that (sigh) we’ve passed beyond summer tomato season, my salad tendencies are trending toward more seasonally appropriate produce like arugula, root vegetables and squashes.
Repeat after me: Salad is not a pile of iceberg lettuce drowned in Italian dressing. Salad is NOT a pile of iceberg lettuce drowned in Italian dressing.
No, salad is a well-composed assemblage of the freshest seasonal vegetables, including lettuce or not, in homemade salad dressing. Salad is this: Lightly steamed matchsticks of butternut squash on a bed of peppery arugula with creamy blue cheese and a simple shallot vinaigrette.
I’m thinking this salad would be a lovely accompaniment to the traditional Turkey Day spread, very much of the season and a lighter, brighter foil to the mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Pick up all the local produce you’ll need to compose a beautiful, seasonal salad at your favorite farmers’ market this week!
winter salad with butternut squash and arugula
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 package baby arugula, washed and spun dry
Handful of toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds
2 ounces good blue cheese (I prefer Maytag for its balanced flavor and creaminess)
Simple shallot vinaigrette (see below)
Slice the neck of the squash into matchsticks; transfer them to a steamer basket set over boiling water and steam the squash until it loses its raw taste and is cooked but firm (and not breaking apart), about 5 minutes. Remove the steamer basket carefully from the pot and run cold water over the squash to stop the cooking.
Place the arugula in a large bowl and season it lightly with salt and pepper; drizzle over about a third of the dressing and toss to coat. Portion the salad onto four salad plates; scatter some of the butternut matchsticks, pepitas or sunflower seeds and crumbled blue cheese over each serving. Drizzle with additional dressing if you’d like.
simple shallot vinaigrette
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon or whole-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely minced shallot
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper