Butternut squash and pearl onions are having a party in this Harvest Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette to celebrate Melissa’s Produce Fall Challenge with the San Diego Food Bloggers. The colors of the holidays are already dancing together as the cranberries and pine nuts peek through the lettuce and herb mix like tiny ornaments.
A group of San Diego Food Bloggers, organized by Barbara of BarbaraCooks.com, are sharing our recipes today. Each of us is eagerly wondering what everyone will come up with for this Melissa’s Produce challenge. Here’s how it works: Melissa’s Produce sends us each a box of assorted items to use in a recipe. We choose at least 3 of the items and add only 1-2 other items to make our dish.
Those of you who know me well are already shaking your heads, because you know that I have been obsessing over what to make and which items to use for days already. Thank you, Melissa’s Produce! I loved everything in the box! Dutch yellow potatoes for roasting, a fresh butternut squash, fresh shallots and pearl onions, peeled and steamed baby potatoes, fava beans, black-eyed peas, and garbanzo beans….plus pine nuts and dried cranberries! What would you make if you received these items?
I started with the little white pearl onions. My mother used to make creamed pearl onions every year for Thanksgiving. I decided to do something a little different with these so I could use them in my salad. First I boiled them for 3 minutes and then put them into cold water. After cutting off each end they were easy to pop out of the skins. I put them into the fridge to use later…at this point they could have become creamed onions after all!
I roasted the squash by cutting it in half, rubbing the cut side with olive oil, turning the cut side down on top of a sprig of rosemary, and baking at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes…until it was soft enough to stick with a fork. Then I let it cool and set it into the fridge for a day. This is what it looked like when I took it out of the fridge…ready to use! The skin peeled off very easily…and I could easily cut up the squash into small cubes, as the squash was chilled. There was plenty of squash left over to make soup or pureed squash as a side dish for another meal.
A little olive oil and butter in the pan with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup….just to glaze the butternut squash cubes…stir over medium heat until the squash is warmed through…then sprinkle some pepper on top!
Next I toasted the pine nuts by putting them into a dry skillet over medium heat and stirring for 2-3 minutes. They turn golden brown and smell heavenly! Don’t you just love the cute little bag they come in? Just tear off the end of the bag and it’s a perfect little ziplock container. The dried cranberries came in the same brilliant little bag!
The chilled pearl onions received a similar treatment as the squash…a little olive oil and butter in the pan with a tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of water, cover and cook for 3 minutes, then uncover and let the water evaporate so the onions are glazed with the maple. Add some chopped fresh thyme at the end.
Each of the items can be served as a topping for a salad bar, or you can construct the salad on each plate. For the greens I used a spring lettuce and herb salad mix. Then I topped the greens with the glazed butternut squash, glazed pearl onions, pine nuts and dried cranberries.
When it was almost time to serve the salad, I made this Warm Cider Vinaigrette inspired by Ina Garten, using one of the shallots. Here’s the recipe:
Warm Cider Vinaigrette
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, the cider vinegar, and the minced shallots. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil until the cider has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Take off the heat and whisk in mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve warm.
Disclaimer: I gratefully accepted a box of produce items from Melissa’s Produce so that I could participate in this recipe challenge. I was not paid to write this post, and all opinions and experiences are my own.