There are times when we just don't know what to eat. When that happens, we pretty much always agree on salad. Salads just makes us feel good, especially after one or several heavy meals. It just has that cleansing effect on your stomach like no other food. No wonder French people eat their salad at the end of their meal. Plus, salads are just so versatile, it's easy to find one we both like.
I think the best salads are the most simple ones. You just need good products and not many, just a few is enough. The star ingredient in this salad is the butternut squash. It takes a little time to prepare but it’s worth the effort in my opinion. First, I roast it in the oven to cook it through, then in the pan for a nice light brown color. This is optional but I think it gives the butternut, well, a nutty taste. I also use a rosemary infused olive oil for added flavor, which makes your kitchen smells like Provence. For the apple, you will want something like the Honey Crisp, Pink Lady or SweeTango. Crunchy, juicy, slightly tangy, they are just perfect for salads, and bonus, they have a nice color. I used baby spinach and arugula but any kind would probably do as well. The dressing is pretty basic but matches well the flavors of the salad.
Nico’s wine pairing: A crisp slightly sweet but dry white wine like a Chenin from the Loire Valley.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing
Serves 2 as main, 4 as side.
- 500g butternut squash (one small or a half medium size)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 small honey crisp apple (or similar)
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven at 375 degrees F. Halve the butternut lengthwise if you are using a medium or large one. Cut the butternut to separate the bottom (round) part from the top (long and straight), this step makes removing the skin easier. Put the first piece flat side down and using a sharp knife, slice the skin off the sides, running the knife from top to bottom following the contour. The skin is quite thick so don't be afraid to cut deeper or you might end up with harder bits after it's cooked. Repeat with the other piece then cut in small one inch cubes.
- Lay the cubes on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, coat evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes or until soft but still firm.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add a splash of olive oil or butter and the sprig of rosemary. Let the oil infuse for few seconds then add the butternut squash cubes. Lightly brown on each side. Set aside to cool down.
- In a small jar, add the mustard, honey, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake well.
- When you are ready to serve, slice the apple in thin slices. In a big bowl, toss the spinach and arugula with the dressing. Lay some butternut squash and apple slices on top. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.