Monday, January 30, 2012
Acorn Squash Salad--for those squash dislikers like myself
I have never liked Squash. We aren't friends. I've heard about how cheap and healthy it is for you, but really, squishy squashy slimy just doesn't appeal to me. But occasionally I try again.
There was acorn squash on sale at the grocery store in the fall, and I dutifully bought one and baked it and discovered that with brown sugar and cinnamon and baked until it wasn't slimy, it wasn't bad.
So every one in a while, I'll buy an acorn squash, bake it, cut it up for my girls to eat and feel like a good mom.
Let's be honest about something here. I'm not a chef by any means of the word. But the Man is artistic by nature and he loves to create in the kitchen as well. Sometimes I feel like I've got to get out there and show some creative cooking spirit just to keep up. I mean really, I do have about 30 years more experience cooking than he does.
Today I felt a creative urging and the munchies at the same time, so instead of wandering over to my sewing machine, I looked in the fridge. There was that acorn squash I'd bought a while back, and I really should do something with it before it goes bad. Does it go bad?
A long time ago, I read a post at Two Peas and Their Pod about a butternut squash salad, and I thought. Hmm, we've got lettuce. I should try that.
So I sliced up the squash into bite sized chunks. I've heard that you should bake the whole squash for a little while to soften it before you cut into it. I believe it. It was pretty hard, and difficult to chop. But I managed.
Then I scooped the seeds and goop out.
It's important to chop them into somewhat the same sized pieces because then they'll bake at the same rate, and you won't get some that burn and some that are still crunchy.
I lay the chunks out on a cookie sheet, sprayed them generously with oil, and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and brown sugar. Also generously. Can't have too much cinnamon and brown sugar in my mind.
Then I baked them at 350 F for about 40 minutes. The last ten minutes I occasionally poked a fork into a thicker piece to see if it was soft. I wanted them not crunchy, but not mushy, so I kept my eye on them.
Meanwhile, I separated the seeds from the goop, spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet covered with foil, sprayed them down with oil too, and sprinkled them with course salt. I popped those in the oven until I could smell them--about 10-15 minutes.
While that all was baking, I got my salad ready. Pretty simple: lettuce and grated cheddar. Didn't really have time or the interest in anything else. I thought the squash would be flavor enough.
And the dressing? Somewhere I got it in my mind that vinaigrette is simply oil, vinegar and something sweet. So I put olive oil, white vinegar and brown sugar together in a bowl and whipped it together until it blended, and then dashed some serious cinnamon ontop and mixed it again. (Like I said, can there be too much cinnamon and brown sugar?)
The Man, (who doesn't like just anything) loved it. He said it had just the right amount of different textures. Soft squash, crunchy seeds, lettuce, cheese. And the flavors were balanced too: salty seeds, sweet dressing savory squash and cheese.
Well what do you know? I made something creatively good to eat!