We find winter quickly approaching us in the state of New Jersey as we are now sitting in the middle of a snow storm.  Instead of watching graceful falling ice crystals, we are worried about our loved ones that still do not have power, heat or a home to return to.  For me it is just a further reminder at how lucky I am to have a beautiful home with electricity, heat and internet.  The destruction and chaos in this last week will be forever ingrained in my memory.  Along with the unending gas station lines, I also took for granted the fresh food in my grocery store.  Anything that needed refrigeration was either wilted, shrived up or just not available.  Along with most every other New Jerseyan, I had been playing the game "eat everything in your refrigerator as fast as you can."  Doing this for a few days has left me craving a nice fresh salad, but I knew I wouldn't be finding any fresh tomatoes or homegrown cucumbers. 

    I decided to try some more seasonal items like acorn squash and cranberries.  Fresh cranberries can now be found in most grocery stores and seem to be either very well stocked or extremely ignored for lack of tasty things to do with them.  Roasting the cranberries made them soft but still bright and tart.  For the greens part I was lucky to find some organic baby arugula still looking fresh in their little plastic box.  If you enjoy the taste of pumpkin seeds I also recommend keeping the acorn squash seeds and roasting them along with everything else. 

    To top off the salad I included some homegrown daikon radish sprouts to give a spicy freshness you probably won't ever find at any grocery store.  However, sprouts are easily grown in a small little corner of your kitchen.  They give you the satisfaction of having a fresh homegrown ingredient at any time of the year that can be thrown onto or into almost anything (probably not ice cream...keep them away from ice cream!).  The only requirement for sprouts is patience and constant rinsing.  This is how I grow my sproutsOverall I try to cook as seasonably as possible because it makes me feel more connected to my environment, but sometimes you just have to go with what's available in your grocery store.

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad

serves about 4 people

1 large acorn squash (you can include the seeds if you like*)
1 bulb of fennel
3/4 cup of fresh cranberries
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

fresh grated nutmeg
4-5 oz baby arugula
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
radish sprouts - How to grow sprouts
honey citrus rosemary vinaigrette (recipe below)


    Quarter the acorn squash and slice into small chunks.  Either scoop out the seed and discard them or save them to roast along with the squash.  Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise and slice into strips.  In a large bowl place the acorn squash, fennel and cranberries.  Drizzle everything with olive oil (as much as needed to coat all the pieces) and toss to coat.  Lay everything out on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.  Bake in a 400° F preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the acorn squash is tender when pierced with a fork. 
    Wash and dry your baby arugula and place it in a large salad bowl or on individual plates and top with the roasted acorn squash, fennel and cranberries.  Top with chopped walnuts and radish sprouts.  Drizzle honey citrus vinaigrette over salad and toss.  Ideally you should serve this salad warm, a few minutes after the vegetables come out of the oven. 

*Acorn Squash seeds are very similar to pumpkin seeds and can be roasted the same way.  The roasted seeds are a bit crunchy so I have left it an optional part of the salad because not everyone enjoys the texture.  My husband left only acorn squash skin and seeds on his plate, so I realize it is not a taste for everyone!

Honey Citrus Rosemary Vinaigrette

1/2 of a Valencia orange (fresh squeezed juice and zest)
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely minced
salt and pepper


Place all ingredients into small mixing bowl and whisk until emulsified.  Drizzle over salad and toss to coat.  Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator. 

 


Comments




Leave a Reply