Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roasted Squash, Blue Cheese & Radicchio Salad

A glorious salad with all of the colours of Autumn. Any mixed vareity of your favourite squash can be used in this salad, such as muchiki kuri, kabocha, acorn or butternut. I've also added dried cranberries and sweet candied pecans before, which add a sweet note to the Roasted Squash, Blue Cheese & Radicchio Salad, but in fact any warm nuts would be fine too, such as pine nuts, walnuts, cashews or even macadamia nuts. The savoury-sweet combination of the roasted squash, bitter leaves, tangy blue cheese, crunchy nuts and fragrant flash-fried sage makes this a delicious and spectacular salad, perfect anytime of the year. To save time, the squash can be roasted ahead of time, and left at room temperature until the dish is ready to be composed later in the day.

Roasted Squash, Blue Cheese & Radicchio Salad

Serves 4
Recipe and photo: hardboiledchef

1 butternut squash, peeled, cored and diced
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp good quality Canadian maple syrup
1 cup good quality blue cheese, St Agur or Gorgonzola
12 radicchio or red endive leaves
4 cups mesclun or mixed lettuce
2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
12 sage leaves, fried in sunflower oil until crisp

Maldon salt and fresh ground pepper

1/2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 475°F. Toss the squash slices with a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of nutmeg, sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of good quality maple syrup. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. While the squash are cooking, combine the balsamic, olive oil and Dijon to make a quick dressing. When the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and let cool briefly before serving.

When ready, crumble the blue cheese into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, combine the squash, radicchio and mixed lettuce leaf tops of your choice, with the dressing. To serve, divide the dressed squash and mixed lettuce leaves evenly between four plates. Garnish with the blue cheese, sage leaves, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and finish with a pinch of Maldon salt and some fresh ground pepper.

Candied Pecans
Makes 1/2 cup 

1/2 cup pecans
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp warm water
2-3 pinches salt
2-3 pinches ground cinnamon

Transfer the pecans to a skillet which has been heated over medium heat, and heat the pecans, shaking the pan from time to time, until the pecans become fragrant. Combine the sugar, water, salt and cinnamon, in a small glass, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the pecans in the skillet and cook stirring until the water has evaporated and the pecans are covered in a glaze. Empty the pecans onto parchment paper, trying to keep them in a single layer. Allow them to cool.