the leaves started to change color up here about two weeks ago but today was the first time that i could smell the autumn leaves as they crunched under my feet when i went running. where the reds, oranges, and yellows used to be a sporadic sighting that i had to be on the lookout to see, those rich colors are now slowly overtaking the formerly green leaves.
i know most people get excited about all of the colors that pop out in the spring but i’ve always preferred fall and winter (really bad allergies in the spring *might* have something to do with this…). i’ll take fall foliage over new spring growth every time. even just driving on the highway these days is so gorgeous, with all of the trees that line the sides of the road bursting with color.
this roasted butternut squash salad is like fall foliage on a plate. (how was that for a smooth transition?!) in addition to lending a beautiful orange hue to the salad, the roasted squash is warm and comforting so that you don’t feel like you’re just eating a big, cold salad as you draw your favorite cozy wool sweater closer over your shoulders.
served with a loaf of crusty bread (which i’m working on testing for us…) and some good olive oil, this is my idea of a perfect fall meal for those days when the sun is warm at midday but by evening, as the sun is going down, a slight chill settles in the air. warm, comforting, but not quite all the way to hearty soup just yet.
- 1 cup (3 7/8 oz. / 110 g.) peeled, cubed butternut squash (one small squash yields plenty)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 oz. (113 g.) brussels sprouts (2 cups shredded)
- 2 cups (1 oz. / 28 g.) baby arugula
- 1 pound cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced, see notes
- about 1 heaping tablespoon (1 oz. / 28 g.) goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
- 7 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- juice from half of a lemon
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- preheat oven to 425° F. combine the squash cubes, peeled garlic (for the dressing), and 2 teaspoons of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and stir/toss around until everything is coated in oil. roast for 15 minutes, stirring/flipping squash and garlic once halfway through cooking time. remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- rinse the brussels sprouts. cut off the ends and remove any damaged leaves. if you have a food processor, set it up with the slicer blade and enjoy the pure joy of dropping the sprouts down the shoot. if you don’t have a food processor, thinly slice the sprouts (a sharp knife or mandolin works well). once the brussels sprouts are all sliced, give them a good bath in a salad spinner or large bowl to get all the trapped grit out. spin or drain and pat them dry.
- combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss. if you’re not going to eat all of the salad at once, just dress the portion you’re eating now. you may not need all of the dressing; let your taste be your guide.
- combine the olive oil through thyme in a blender. once the garlic cloves are roasted as instructed above, add to the blender. blend everything until smooth.
rotisserie chicken would work well here if you’re trying to streamline and get dinner on the table quickly. if you have a few minutes to cook the chicken and a panini press, that’s my favorite method because the chicken cooks quickly and stays moist. i trim and pound the breast thin, sear it quickly until it reaches 165° F, then let it cool a few minutes before slicing it.