Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Squash Salad with Pomegranate Arils and Wilted Greens

Winter Squash Salad

It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I tasted winter squash.  Jamie’s mom had given us a few small buttercup squashes from her garden, and after we brought them home, Jamie sliced one in half, scooped out the seeds, and filled the cavity with a little butter, brown sugar and salt.  After roasting the squash until it was tender, he scooped out the flesh and mashed it up to eat with dinner.

I hadn’t realized there were so many wonderful squash varieties, since until then, I had only ever eaten yellow summer squash, raw in salads, sautĂ©ed (not my favorite since it tends to overcook and get mushy) or pureed into a buttery squash soufflĂ©-like casserole with crumb topping.  That casserole was one of the few dishes that my college dining hall did well, although its tastiness was somewhat overshadowed by my job of plopping endless spoonfuls of it onto plastic trays, while looking oh-so-institutional in my blue uniform dress, complete with hairnet and white plastic apron.

Winter Squash Salad

This fall, instead of buying inedible gourds for decorating the house, I used varieties of small winter squash, loving the look of their orange, green and yellow rinds.  They kept very well, and served more than a decorative purpose since every week or so, we would cook one to eat with dinner.

So with winter squash and pomegranates still in abundance, I made a warm winter squash salad alongside some grilled pork chops the other night.  As much as I like winter squash, I’m a little tired of squash purees, and really enjoyed the roasted butternut squash with its browned, caramelized edges. 

Hot from the oven and tossed with some baby kale, the squash slightly wilted the greens and coated them with flavor.  The slight bitterness of the baby kale was a nice contrast to the natural sweetness of the squash.  I kept the salad simple, only adding some sliced shallot for its delicate, oniony bite, pomegranate arils for sweet, juicy pops of freshness, and a little shaved Parmesan.  There are plenty of possibilities for adding other vegetables, as well as dressing it a little more, maybe with a light balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar, although I think the pomegranate arils add just the right amount of freshness it needs.

Winter Squash Salad

Winter Squash Salad with Wilted Greens and Pomegranate Arils

·         1 butternut squash
·         2-3 tablespoons olive oil
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         Coarse salt and pepper
·         2 cups greens, such as baby spinach, baby kale or arugula
·         1 shallot, thinly sliced
·         ½ cup pomegranate arils
·         ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese

Preheat the oven to 375.  Peel the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Cut the squash into 1-inch pieces.  Place on a rimmed, greased baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and the edges are beginning to brown.

In a large bowl, toss the roasted squash with the greens, shallot and pomegranate arils.  If you like, you can drizzle with a little red wine vinegar or a light balsamic vinegar.  Top each serving with some of the shaved Parmesan.

Yields 4-6 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen