Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Squash-Mushroom Salad with Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette



There are meals when the main course is light, delicate -- a brothy-frothy soup  or a small piece of white fish with a few vegetables.  Or maybe you just have some squash leftover you'd like to make into a pretty "meaty" meal. On the other hand, this would also be a decidedly different and total side for a few great slices of pork loin or a lovely duck breast over the holidays.  If any of those things is the case or even if none is, this is your salad.

It starts with cooking a whole acorn squash and about half of a normal-sized butternut squash (I do both in the microwave for recipes like this.*) If you like, a Hubbard or a Turban squash could be used instead.   Let the squash cool a bit and then peel and cut it into one-inch pieces.  Meantime, a few mushrooms are sautéed, stirred into the squash pieces, and gathered together  with a decadent vinaigrette.  A bit of cheese,  a handful of fresh spinach and arugula, some chopped nuts for crunch and  you have your salad.  Couldn't be easier, quicker, or more luscious.  So winter.  So warming.  So if you're cooking squash one night for dinner, fix an extra couple so you have have this the next day.   Here's how:



winter squash-mushroom salad with sherry-truffle oil vinaigrette

  • 4 cups cooked winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.) peeled and cut into 1" pieces*
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms sliced and sautéed in butter  (about 1 tablespoon) with 5 leaves of sage finely minced or julienned **
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup each fresh spinach and arugula
  • 12 large shards --or peels-- of Parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler) 
  • Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette (below)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped nuts, your choice (I liked a mix of almonds and cashews.)  
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries or cherries, optional 
1.  In a large bowl, mix squash and mushrooms with sage and parsley. Salt and pepper generously.  
2.  Stir in the peeled Parmesan carefully.
3.  Drizzle salad with enough vinaigrette to moisten lightly.  Toss gently, but thoroughly to make sure all of the ingredients are covered with dressing.  
4.  Divide the salad between four salad plates and top each with a tablespoon of chopped nuts and 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cranberries, if using.
5.  Serve immediately.
  
*To cook squash in the microwave:  Pour 2 tablespoons water in a 3 quart Pyrex or microwave-safe dish.  Carefully cut acorn or butternut squash in half; scoop our seeds and strings.  Add a peeled clove of garlic or a peeled shallot to each squash half.  Place squash in dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high about five minutes, remove from oven with mitts and, with a small sharp knife, check for doneness.  You want the squash just tender, not mushy.  If it's not done, put it back in the microwave and cook another minute or two and check again until the knife is easily inserted. Repeat if necessary.  Add the garlic/shallot (mince them) to the salad.

**If you don't have fresh sage, use 1/2 teaspoon (dry) rubbed sage. 

 Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette*
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced.
  • pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustart
  • 1 tablespoon Truffle oil**
  • 3 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil.      
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, shallot, salt and peppers, and mustard.  Drizzle in oils, whisking, until well-combined.

A book you can trust from beginning to end--wonderful recipes and great wine advice, ideas, and thoughts.  Nearly ten years old now, it has stood the test of time in my kitchen.

*This vinaigrette is one, with a bit of change, from Andrea Immer's (Robinson) book, Everyday Cooking with Wine, which is one of my favorites.  She uses a recipe much like this for her Warm Wild Mushroom salad, which is one I often make.

**Can use all olive oil.

around the 'hood 

 My choir's (I use the pronoun loosely) cantata was last weekend and they blew it out of the sanctuary!  In between a Taize Advent supper, Lectio Divina and service, the last rehearsals and worship, the wind whipped and more than 12 inches of snow covered our world.  More than 600 crashes and 1,000 cars in ditches in a 24-hour period!   Two of the crashes happened to my folk trying to get to worship or rehearsals in the hilly terrain of our church, Prospect Park United Methodist in Minneapolis.  (Everyone's ok.)

The temperature sits at 8 degrees Fahrenheit now (way below zero with windchill) and the pups and I are inside except for quick forays out into the white for pee breaks.


Here are some of my favorite pics from our yard:
 
Hydrangea in snow.

South yard lilacs.

West fence picket.

Hello, snow.  How gorgeous you can be.

 Sing a new song and put on your favorite holiday album,
Alyce 

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