Salad of Arugula, Purple Cauliflower and Butternut Squash

This salad could really be called “fall harvest” salad, because it takes full advantage of ingredients that are currently at their peak.  This arugula is bigger, heartier and fuller-flavored than in the summer.  All of the crucifers are bigger, greener and sweeter now, after we’ve had a few frosts.   Winter squashes, which, for the most part, were harvested in the middle of summer, have aged and grown more orange and sweeter.

The inspiration for this salad was the seductive purple cauliflower that caught my eye as I began shopping this afternoon.

When this variety of cauliflower is roasted, the color actually deepens, and the florets become caramelized and crispy.  This is the perfect, deep flavor with which to top some sturdy, bitter fall arugula.

For some sweetness, butternut squash is the perfect component.   Today, rather than roasting the squash (as I usually do), I decided to boil it instead.  Boiling it produces a moister, brighter, more delicate texture and flavor–better suited to a salad, in my opinion.

The added bonus of butternut squash is its seeds–a seldom-recognized treat.  The seeds of the butternut squash, with a little extra effort, can be cleaned and roasted to make a great nutty, salty topping to any salad (or just eaten as a snack).

Tonight, for our main course, we had more of those delicate, irresistable Sauteed Peconic Bay Scallops over fettucine.

Salad of Arugula, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash

serves 4 generously

1 head purple cauliflower (white is fine)

1 butternut squash

1 lb arugula, washed and coarsely chopped

3 tbls olive oil

1 tbl red wine vinegar

2 tsps agave nectar

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut cauliflower into bite-size chunks.  Place on roasting pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt (a half-teaspoon) and some black pepper.

 Toss and roast in the oven, uncovered for about an hour, turning from time-to-time., until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Taste for salt and add, if necessary. Set aside.

Peel and dice the butternut squash into 1″ cubes.  Place the cubes in cold, salted water and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes, or until squash is tender, drain.   Place butternut squash cubes in a mixing bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon each of red wine vinegar and agave.  Taste and add salt, if necessary.

With a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the stringy center of the squash.

Wash seeds and dry well. 

 Place on sheet pan and toss with a teaspoon of oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Roast at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes, turning from time to time  (they’ll pop and begin toasting very quickly–do not be alarmed and do not burn).   

In a large mixing bowl, drizzle arugula with remaining vinegar, agave, and oil.  Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Arrange greens on plate, surround with squash and top wth cauliflower.  Sprinkle squash seeds over all.

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