Autumn Inspired Salad…

It’s not much of a wordless Wednesday when I blog three times, huh? Oh, well…

Even though the calendar says that it’s autumn… here in sunny SoCal… such is not the case… in fact, it is currently warmer than it was all summer… and I’ve had my a/c on for two or three days, whereas, in the summer I occasionally needed a light jacket. Strange weather, that’s for sure. I’m not complaining… I am confident that I will not be missing the east coast winters!

I do love watching the autumn leaves changing… will that happen here? I don’t know… we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m thinking they won’t. I’d love to travel a bit north to NorCal or Seattle, if only we could get the time off…

Since autumn is our favorite time of year, full of holidays and weather that we love, I decided to create an autumn inspired salad. This is loosely based on the butternut squash salad from Au Bon Pain, which they don’t seem to have anymore. Mine turned out to be much more intense and flavorful. It even got an “Incredible” rating from my taste-tester. :mrgreen: The only thing I would do to ‘improve’ upon it is to add more lettuce.

Let’s get to the details, shall we?

Ingredients:

    butternut squash
    bbq sauce
    2 apples
    orange juice
    cinnamon
    pumpkin seeds (raw)
    sugar
    salt
    canola oil
    mixed greens
    dried cranberries
    raisins
    pecans
    balsamic vinaigrette

First, I peeled, deseeded, and chopped up a butternut squash. Then I lined a broiler pan with parchment paper, and then liberally drizzled bbq sauce all over the squash, using my hands to distribute…

I baked it at 400°F for 40 minutes, and then checked for doneness (the house smelled amazing!)…

I decided that it needed just a bit longer, but I also noticed how the bbq sauce had started to burn on the pan. I got out another sheet of parchment paper, relined the broiler pan. Then carefully removed the butternut squash from the burnt bbq sauce using a fork. Then I drizzled more bbq sauce over the almost done squash, and cooked it about 10 minutes longer…

Much better. 🙂 Next time, I think I’d roast/bake the squash most of the way without the bbq sauce and then put it on the last 10-20 minutes… that way I don’t waste that delicious bbq sauce. Btw, this was the first time we’ve tasted this flavor of Annie’s (sweet & spicy) bbq sauce, *WOW*, is all I can say, I really liked this flavor!

While the squash was baking/roasting… I tended to the apples. I cored and chopped up two apples. These apples were new-to-me… have you ever had a sansa apple? They are pretty good, I don’t think they’d be a good cooking apple, but they are pretty good as out-of-hand apples. Reminded me a bit of gala apples, yet a bit more earthy. When I saw the apple I had to get it, you may remember my apple quest… I had to know what it tasted like. 🙂

Once the apples where chopped, I placed them in a bowl with about a Tablespoon of orange juice and several dashes of cinnamon. The orange juice’s job is two-fold… one to help slow down the oxidation process on the apples (i.e. browning), and two to help the cinnamon stick to the apple. It did both nicely. You don’t want to drown the apples in orange juice, it’s just a marinade… then I put saran over the top and set aside, in the fridge.

Once the squash was done… I took that parchment paper full of squash and transferred it to the counter top. Then I lined the broiler pan once more with parchment paper. Placed enough pumpkin seeds on to form a single layer, sprinkled 1/2 Tbsp sugar, several dashes of cinnamon, a dash of salt (this is a nice flavor touch), and 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil over the pumpkin seeds. Then I used my hands to distribute. (* Note: the cinnamon really liked sticking to my hands and under my nails… it might have been better to use a spatula)…

Then I toasted the pumpkin seeds at 400°F for 5 minutes. I could hear them popping, like popcorn. I didn’t know it would do that! Keep an eye and nose on it, burnt seeds = yuk. Five minutes should be plenty of time, set aside to cool…

Assembly time!

Line 4 containers with mixed greens, torn into bite-size pieces. Add squash, apples, raisins, and dried cranberries…

Cover and store in the fridge. In little snack baggies divide up the pumpkin seeds and add some pecans. In small leak-proof containers, measure out 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette. Store in fridge. Lunch packed… check…

Now, the house was wafting its wondrous bbq smells… how could I possibly think of breakfast foods for dinner? I called my taste-tester and informed him that he was going to want bbq once he got home. He got home less than an hour later and agreed that bbq sounded good. Then I realized I only had three slices of bread…

My taste-tester suggested ‘big mac’ style and we split it… so I toasted up two veggie burgers and three slices of bread. Then I layered them… bread, bbq sauce, pickles, veggie burger, bread, bbq sauce, pickles, veggie burger, bbq sauce, bread.

On the side, we had what was left over of the squash, apples, and pumpkin seeds from the salads I made earlier. I also heated up some frozen corn and added soy garden. My taste-tester could not stop raving about the squash, apple, bbq sauce, pumpkin seed combo. :mrgreen:


This afternoon I found out if all my efforts the night before were worth it…

I opened up the container, and what did I see? Lettuce not wilted and apples not browned, yipee…

First I tasted the combo without the balsamic vinaigrette…

Then I put some vinaigrette on some lettuce and added the key components for another taste test…

The balsamic vinaigrette added another element to the flavor combo… I had to add it all…

This was a GREAT salad! My taste-tester ranked it as INCREDIBLE… and I’d have to agree. This salad was everything I had hoped for and more! I served it with some crackers and it was perfect.

Until next time…
~nic

September 30, 2010…3:10 PM

Updated to add: I would still prefer to add more lettuce, like double… or half the toppings. All those toppings start to get a bit overwhelming. Today, being day two of the salad, I’d also like to say that two days should be the maximum time the salads should be stored in-tact. The lettuce was starting to get a bit wilted and the apples were starting to taste a bit fermented. I think that if the components were stored separately, it might last a day or two longer. 🙂 But still a great salad.

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2 thoughts on “Autumn Inspired Salad…

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