Mar 2011

Maple Roasted Butternut + Arugula Salad

Perhaps I delude myself [as do millions of other Americans] when I presume that I’m being healthy by having a salad.

Bring on the bacon & ranch dressing I say!¬† No really – I’m always trying for the balance of hearty and healthful and this salad is a perfect example. One of the ways I accomplish this is to make dramatic reductions in fat – but only where it won’t be missed. For example, the formula that applies to a dressings acid-to-oil balance can often be tweaked. Especially if the acid is a softer choice such as a sweet vinegar [like an aged balsamic] which needs very little oil to counterbalance.

This salad was inspired by one of Ina’s, and because the apple cider puts this dressing on the sweet side, I was able to cut the oil in half. It’s delicious – even my “salad wary” hubby said so – and I especially enjoy it while the butternut is still warm from the oven. A generous shave of Parmigiano takes the flavor up a notch. When it comes to the classics such as Parmigiano [the king of cheeses] I don’t mess with perfection! Indulge in a wedge of the authentic Italian stuff – aged no less than 20 months for the most flavor. My fridge is never without one…

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2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced [3/4 inch]
1/4 cup + 1 T olive oil
2 T pure maple syrup
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup apple cider
2 T white balsamic vinegar [or champagne vinegar]
2 medium shallots, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
7 oz bag of arugula
1/2 cup toasted walnuts halves
3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

Preheat to 400. On sheet pan, toss the butternut squash with  1 T olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Roast the squash for 20 minutes [or until tender], stirring once midway. Combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Toss salad with vinaigrette, sprinkle with S & P and serve.

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