"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Out of the Box, Take 9

We just had our very last CSA delivery for the season, and it was bittersweet.  Bitter, obviously, because it's the last.  Sigh.  I am so going to miss those beautiful, organic vegetables arriving weekly, like a long-lost friend.  And sweet, because there were some delicious foods in there.  I consider myself fairly vegetable savvy, or at least I did, until lately, when I was pleasantly surprised to discover the gorgeous wealth of the fall harvest.  Who said the only colorful, exciting veg comes in summer?  No way, my friends, we've been eating well.  From electric watermelon radishes (I'll have those for you soon!), to rainbow chard (which, yes, my kiddos are get slightly tired of, but not me!), to colorful squashes and potatoes, leeks and broccolini...oh my.  Good stuff.

So last night, for the first time, I had Delicata Squash, and I must sheepishly admit, I wasn't sure exactly what to do with it.  That's what the internet is for, though, right?  So, I looked it up, and discovered that while it's a winter squash, it possesses a more tender skin, that doesn't need to be peeled.  Nice, less work?  Count me in.

When roasted, Delicata Squash tastes somewhat like Butternut, but perhaps even a bit sweeter.  The skin gets a nice crunch to the edges, while the flesh caramelizes with its roasting time in the oven. Scrumptious.

I had some escarole, also from our box, which had nice, sturdy leaves, and, once the ribs were stripped, a pleasingly subtle bitterness.  Reminiscent of radicchio, but less bitter.  (The ribs were a little aggressive, so I tossed them.)  Along with some feta in the fridge, toasted hazelnuts, and a quick balsamic-honey vinaigrette...dinner was on!

Here you go:

Autumn Salad of Roasted Delicata Squash, Escarole, Feta, and Hazelnuts
serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side

1 or 2 Delicata Squash, about 1 or 1 1/2 lbs total
escarole, or other robust salad green
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan, then coarsely chopped
1/4 cup feta, broken into bite-size chunks

Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette
2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
2 Tbs good balsamic vinager
1 Tbs honey
4-6 Tbs good olive oil, to taste (I prefer my dressing on the tart side, so use less oil)
1 clove garlic, minced
generous pinch Maldon sea salt, or kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

To prep the squash, first slice off the ends, then slice in half, lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scoop the seeds from the squash, then slice into 1/2 inch crescents.

Toss with 2 tsp olive oil, and coarse sea salt and pepper, then arrange on a baking sheet, and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, turning every 10 to 15 minutes.  If the squash are browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 350.  Likewise, if they are not caramelizing, turn it up to 400.

Once the squash goes in the oven, throw all your vinaigrette ingredients into a mason or jam jar, shake vigorously, and leave to let the flavors meld while the magic happens in the oven.

Arrange the escarole leaves on a platter, top with warm Delicata squash, feta chunks, hazelnuts, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Lovely.  We had our salad alongside some of Molly's Bouchons au Thon, from Orangette.

Happy Autumn Eats to you!

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