Well, we are one week into the New Year and Portland is getting round three of snow! The weather preceding this last storm was tugging at my heartstrings for Colorado and the beautiful sunny (albeit) cold days. Lets just say there was a kick in my step the whole week and the sunglasses even came out. We are back to the cold, grey, Nordic vibe, which I totally appreciate for different reasons. It's nice to have variety right?
Since we are on the subject of variety, it's good to have a little variety in winter salads. I get in a bit of a rut with the same organic mix, the usual suspects of toppings and the same vinaigrette that I can make by heart. This bright and beautiful salad was a welcome reprieve from the standard lineup. I love the taste of bitter greens and how well they hold up to the addition of warm roasted vegetables. The sweetness from the squash and dates mixed well with the fresh lemon in the dressing and the bite of the greens. This salad tasted best when the squash was still warm, it wilted the dandelion greens ever so slightly and soaked up some of the vinaigrette. You could really riff off this salad in so many ways, toasted hazelnuts with dried apricots, pecans and dried figs, walnuts with dried cherries could all make for an amazing relish. Lots of potential for something new to your salad repertoire.
Roasted Squash with Date Relish and Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1/3 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon plus 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 lb. kabocha or acorn squash, each squash halved through root end, seeded
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch dandelion greens, tough ends trimmed (about 4 oz.)
1 cup Delget Noor dates (about 3 1/2 oz) pitted, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 oz. Parmesan, cut into 1/4 " cubes (optional)
Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven, preheat to 375 degrees. Spread out pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast on top rack, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, puffed and aromatic, about 7 minutes. Toss pumpkin seeds on sheet with 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Let cool on sheet.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Place squash cut side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, carefully remove peel. Cut squash lengthwise into 3/4" thick wedges. Place squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, and thyme in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Divide squash between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, cut side down, in a single layer.
Roast squash, rotating sheets halfway through, until tender when pierced with a fork, 25-30 minutes; set aside.
Mix remaining 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and parsley in a medium bow. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Place dandelion greens in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 tablespoon dressing. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Add dates and Parmesan, if using, to remaining dressing in bowl for date relish. Arrange dandelion greens on a large platter; top with warm squash. Spoon date relish over, garnish with pumpkin seeds.