As we cruise into the holiday season, it’s never too early to think about what foods shall be the centre of the feast.
Sure, the various types of glistening roast beast (turkey, prime rib, ham) are always the focal point of the table, but don’t forget about show-stopping side dishes that will garner a gasp from your guests. This roasted hasselback butternut squash salad is not only pretty to look at, it’s pretty darn delicious to eat, too.
You may be aware of hasselback potatoes — where they are cut about halfway through into thin fan-like slices and roasted until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. This technique also works on other vegetables, and it is quite lovely with butternut squash.
The trick here is to not cut the squash all the way through — about 3/4 of the way should do it. When it’s finished cooking it should look golden and caramelized and the flesh should be tender. While the squash roasts away in the oven, sage leaves are fried, shallots are caramelized, and pecans are candied. It may sound like a lot or work, but the steps only take a few minutes each. You could prepare these components as well as the apricot vinaigrette the day ahead, saving you some time on the day of. Peppery arugula makes a fine bed of greens, and the creamy goat cheese and dried cranberries add another layer of flavour and texture.
The overall appearance of this salad is quite impressive, and don’t be surprised if your guests go back for seconds.
Roasted Hasselback Butternut Squash Salad
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, divided
8 fresh sage leaves
2 large shallots, sliced
3/4 cup pecan halves or pieces
120 grams arugula
1/2 cup creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup dried cranberries or tart cherries
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp apricot jam
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Wash the squash, pat dry, and peel until you reach the pure yellow/orange layer with no white remaining. Use a very sharp chef’s knife for this task, and be careful when doing so. Don’t worry if the squash isn’t super smooth — little jaggedness adds character to the salad. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash halves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and rub generously with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash …….