Bye, Boring Salad. We’ve Moved On.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears and Stilton—such a great way to get your veggies without being boring. Using just the top neck of the squash creates rounds of the same size for even roasting and is an excellent technique that results in perfectly roasted squash and a wonderful presentation.

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Stilton Cheese Facts:  This is one of the best British cheeses—suitable not only for celebrations, but also to perk up everyday dishes. It can only be produced in the three counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The distinctive feature of this cheese is magical blue veins radiating from the centre of the cheese.

And pears with Stilton are a natural together. Occasionally in the cooler months, Russ and I will enjoy a glass of wine with this combo. Although you may remember early on when I began writing this blog, I mentioned my distaste of Bleu Cheese of any kind, until miraculously when I was going through my divorce years ago, I all of a sudden loved it—go figure!

As far as the bacon, in my case, I just added a few crumbles because it doesn’t necessarily agree with me but I did want a touch of the flavor. And we crumbled our cheese around the salad (after the photos) for better distribution in every bite! Substitute toasted pecans or walnuts for the bacon if you are vegetarian, or like me, don’t eat much bacon.

The roasted squash was so good that we’re going to use it as a side vegetable with future entrees. We can’t figure out why, but it had a bit of a spicy bite to the taste, and all we used was the olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Another keeper to add to our growing recipe library…

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Slicing through butternut squash is sooo much easier than acorn squash!

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.)
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium head escarole (about 1 lb.), trimmed and torn into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 10 lightly packed cups)
  • 2 medium firm-ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 6 oz. Stilton, cut into 8 wedges

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I placed the squash rounds on parchment to ensure there would be no sticking to the pan.

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After each side is brushed with olive oil, sprinkle on the salt, pepper and rosemary.

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Start building your salad by placing the roasted squash on the plate first.

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Cut off the narrow top portion of the squash close to where it widens (reserve the base for another use). Peel and slice it into 12 thin (about 1/4-inch) rounds.
  3. Brush both sides of the squash with 1 Tbs. of the oil and spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the rosemary, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Roast, turning once, until softened and browned, about 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 Tbs. oil and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the escarole and pears with enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the squash on 4 large dinner plates. Top each with a mound of the escarole and pears and sprinkle with the bacon. Tuck 2 wedges of Stilton into each salad and serve.

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by Tony Rosenfeld from Fine Cooking

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