Fall salad with butternut squash, arugula and blue cheese.

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

(serves 4)

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

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