This salad is bursting with new fall produce for a deliciously fun cold weather comfort salad. Spice roasted butternut squash, juicy pears, buttery pecans, salty blue cheese, dried cherries, and pomegranate seeds mingle together in an easy Maple-Cider vinaigrette.
Choose ripe Comice or Anjou pears for this salad. For a variation on pear slicing, set the pear on its side and make thin slices all the way down to the root, leaving off the root so the pear has an even base to balance on. Turn it back up, place it in the center of the salad, then fan the slices slightly apart from one another until it looks like edible art.
All the flavors pair well with one another and although there are many sweet ingredients, the salad holds a very savory quality because of the blue cheese, nuts, and butternut squash. It is a great salad if you are a fan of salty and sweet!
Fall Harvest Salad
2 main course or 4 side dish servings
1/2 cup whole pecans
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and sliced into bite-sized half moon shapes
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
2-4 ripe pears (comice or anjou)
1 pomegranate, seeds removed (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup mild blue cheese (Amish Blue or Stella), goat cheese, or no cheese
1 5 ounce box heirloom lettuces or other delicate leaf lettuce (delicate mixed greens better than romaine or iceberg here)
Maple-Cider Vinaigrette, recipe below
Turn oven to 400. Place butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, spices, salt, and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, or until squash pieces are mostly tender. Stir the squash around and add the pecans to the sheet. Roast another 5 minutes, until pecans are fragrant and squash is cooked through.
Meanwhile make the dressing, recipe below, and prepare the other ingredients by slicing the pears, crumbling the cheese, and removing the seeds from the pomegranate fruit.
Toss lettuce with 3/4 of dressing and a sprinkle of salt. Divide among plates. Place a pear in the center of the salad and slightly fan out the layers. Drizzle a small amount of dressing over the top of the pear. Nestle warm butternut squash, toasty whole pecans, large chunks of cheese, pomegranate seeds, and dried berries decoratively around the pear and over the lettuce. Serve immediately.
1 teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup (1 tablespoon tastes good if you are watching sugar but 2 gives more maple flavor)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a small glass jar (I like jam jars) with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.