Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears & Blue Cheese

Inspiration for these pages seems to strike at the oddest times.  A couple of weeks back I found myself, yet again, in the chair of my dentist.  She's a great woman.  Wants me to call her Eunice.  She knows her way around a root canal like no body's business.  Yet, no matter how nice my dentist is, when it comes time for the massive needle to inject freezing fluid into my face, I'd rather be anywhere but there.  After what seemed liked an eternity, I was left alone with the latest issue of Fine Cooking to tide me over while the freezing did its thing.  Dentists aren't keen on drilling into your teeth unless they are positive you can't feel such torture.  Sweethearts, aren't they? Good thing I had such enjoyable reading material.  Just as my nose began to freeze, and then my eyebrow (so not joking about that - it was trippy) I spotted the salad.

I know what you're thinking, who in their right mind thinks about food while in the torture dentist's chair?  Well, apparently I do.  Because all I could think about was this roasted butternut squash salad, with ripe pears and wedges of Stilton in a balsamic vinaigrette.  Bacon was a player.  It always is.  As the drills and other terrifying instruments did their thing in my mouth, I thought about how wonderful roasted walnuts would be, and yes, seeds from a pomegranate would make this salad absolutely perfect.  And seasonal.  Look around the market this is what you see.  On a bed of organic baby greens and kale, it would make a dynamite first course to your holiday meal.  Or add slices of leftover roasted chicken, like I did tonight, and it's a perfectly quick and delicious weeknight meal, as you bustle to and fro all of your holiday activities.

Slice from the neck of the squash, and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary.  Brush with olive oil and it only takes about 20 minutes roasting time. Meanwhile toast your walnuts, slice your pears, cut your pomegranate and remove the gem-like seeds, which I learned recently from Yossy, are called arils.  Cool, hey?  Fry a little bacon and chop it up - leave it out if you wanna go veggie.  Fine by me.  Everyone needs a little break from bacon - I get that.  Instead of Stilton, I used a delicious Danish blue cheese from Castello.  Creamy and full of blue-cheesy goodness, it really brought everything together in this salad.  If blue cheese is not up your alley, go ahead and substitute goat cheese or Parmesan.  Wrap things up nicely with a drizzle of maple balsamic vinaigrette.  I like to arrange the slices of roasted butternut squash on a pretty platter and top with the fresh greens and remaining ingredients.  Everyone can dig in and help themselves to every bit of deliciousness.  The squash is tender and caramelized and compliments the crunch of the walnuts and pomegranate seeds.  Sweet bursts of pear juice and blue cheese are perfect, and you know bacon.  It makes everything that much better.  Eunice gets me back in her chair in January - wonder what will inspire me next?

Disclosure:  I received coupons for cheese from the kind people of Castello (it's every girl's dream!), but the recipe and opinions here are my own.  

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears & Blue Cheese

16 slices of butternut squash, from the "neck", about 1/4 inch thick
3 tbsp olive oil, for brushing
coarse salt, pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 Anjou pears, ripe, sliced into quarters
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
seeds from half a pomegranate
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/3 cup blue cheese (I used Castello)
fresh baby greens and kale - about 8 cups
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
salt, pepper to taste

Peel the butternut squash and cut slices.  Arrange on a bake sheet, brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper.  Place in preheated oven at 450*F.  Roast for 10 minutes, turn over and roast another 10. Meanwhile, prep remaining ingredients while squash cooks.  Once it's done, arrange on a platter, top with greens, pears, pomegranate seeds, nuts, bacon and cheese.  Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar, adjust seasonings and shake it all around.  Drizzle on top of salad and serve immediately.  Serves 4.  Inspired by Fine Cooking, Dec. 2012 


  1. Oh my word. It looks outstanding, I can just imagine it tastes even better.

    I am definitely going to have to make this. Wishing we were not in the middle of a blizzard as I would go shopping tonight.

    Amazing combination of flavours.

  2. Wow. I cringe just thinking about the dentist. It's a good thing you had Fine Cooking to get you through. The salad looks amazing.

  3. Love butternut squash and all things orange! Looks delicious and will try it with sweet potatoes too.

  4. Redawna - thank you! Stay warm :)
    Jess - I'm already dreading my next appointment. Good thing Eunice is awesome :)
    Agi - thank you - sweet potatoes would be excellent as well.

  5. That is definitely what I would have been thinking about in the dentist's chair but wherever inspiration hits, right? Looks and sounds delicious!

  6. I meant definitely NOT what I would have been thinking about! lol.

  7. Lovely looking salad! And I feel your pain on the dental situation. I've got some major work to take care of next year. I'm a big baby about the needle thing, too. I haven't yet picked up a copy of Fine Cooking- I'll have to check it out.

  8. Hahaha Melissa - truthfully, thought of food were coinciding with thoughts of "get me out of here!" and "this sucks so much help!".
    Shelley - good luck to you and your teeth - have some tasty reading material handy :)


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