This salad came to me in my dreams. How about that? I’m dreaming about food now.
It’s probably not a huge surprise that it came to me in my sleep. As I was drifting off, I was thinking about dried cranberries and butternut squash. Why? Because Dom picked up a few items from the grocery store and they were the last things I looked at before heading off to bed.
Such an awesome autumn combination; such rich colors; such appealing textures…I knew I had to do something with them. So I put it out in the universe.
I asked, “What shall I do with these ingredients?” And the universe answered, “Salad, my dear.” It’s true – the universe responded with “my dear”. She’s just that way…very loving, our universe. It’s easy to work with her.
So, when I woke up, I knew what I had to do…make salad. This was fun, I knew that not only did it have to look like autumn, it needed to obviously, taste like autumn, and smell like autumn…
I began with toasting some pecans on the stove top. I knew they were done the moment their nutty aroma burst onto the scene. And believe me, it’s just like that. One minute you’re paying close attention to the nuts in the hot pan, you’re stirring them, you’re watching them, and nothin’… nothin’… then the next minute, BOOM! You’re smelling pecans! Be sure to take them off the heat as soon as you notice their delectable aroma because they are quick to burn at this point. (Perhaps I have a little experience with this…)
And then I roasted the squash. Man…is there anything better than 1/8 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper, and 3 lbs. of diced squash roasted at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to create what I like to call, caramelized splendor? Oh, how easily I digress…sorry. So, I knew the squash was ready when its sweet, sugary smell blanketed the kitchen. Then it was just a matter of gathering the rest of our players…diced apple, dried cranberries, mixed greens, and crumbly blue cheese.
And let’s not forget about the dressing. What kind of autumn salad would it be without apple cider (vinegar) and honey?
The combination of these flavors and textures are meant to be together… creamy squash, crunchy apple, tangy cranberry, nutty pecans, earthy greens, and sharp blue cheese all swaddled in a sweet little dressing.
And there you have it – autumn on a plate! Dreams really do come true!
- ½ cup toasted pecans
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup butternut squash, diced and roasted
- 1 cup apple, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup blue cheese
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- Place whole pecans in a dry pan on a medium-high heat.
- Watch closely and stir until pecans are darkened and aromatic (about 5-7 minutes).
- Place greens on a dinner plate.
- Top with roasted squash, apples, cranberries, pecans and blue cheese.
- In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, water, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Whisk until fully combined.
- Drizzle over salad.