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Fall Harvest Salad with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Beets

I created this for a Thanksgiving 2012 get-together, wanting to focus on hearty fall garden veggies. It was a big hit at the table!

One small Butternut squash, cut into cubes (or half of a medium squash)
20 Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
One small beet, cut in halves or quarters
3-4 slices of bacon, fried crisp, drained and cooled, broken into small pieces
One smallish head Romaine lettuce, split into quarters and chopped chunky
3-4 smaller leaves of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
Brown sugar
Vegetable or olive oil
Balsamic or Red Wine vinegar
Coarse black pepper

Toss Butternut Squash cubes in a little oil in a bowl to coat them and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (depending on the size of your chunks) or until nearly done. Return to bowl and add about 1/3 cup brown sugar and a pat or two of butter, toss to blend and melt butter, return to baking sheet and roast for about 10 more minutes, or until just barely tender all the way through. Don’t over-cook – you don’t want them mushy. Return to bowl to cool. Chill before mixing.

Toss Brussels Sprout halves in a little oil in a bowl to coat, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, remove and toss/turn over, and roast for several more minutes, until they are nearly tender – again, don’t over-cook. Better that they be a little crunchy in the salad than not. Return to bowl to cool. Chill before mixing.

Beet can be roasted or steamed until just tender. If you prefer roasting, cut it in half or quarters and roast with the Brussels Sprouts, then slice into small julienne strips after it cools.  Chill before mixing

Put dried cranberries in a small bowl and sprinkle lightly with a little of the balsamic vinegar. They will absorb a little of the liquid and not be so chewy, and they will absorb the flavor. Once the cranberries are tossed and coated with the vinegar and have absorbed for a few minutes, you can add them to the roasted squash while it continues to cool.

Toss nuts in a little honey and toast in a slow oven (250 degrees or so), for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as nuts will overheat and burn, especially with the sugar from the honey on them. Cool completely.

Put chopped/torn greens and sliced green onion into a large salad bowl. Add the Bacon, Cranberries, chilled Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and julienned Beet, and honey-toasted nuts. Sprinkle with some coarse black pepper (to taste) and Parmesan cheese. Add the Brown Sugar Balsamic Vinaigrette to taste. Toss lightly before serving.

Brown Sugar Balsamic Vinaigrette
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ tsp. salt (maybe a little more)
½ cup brown sugar (or a little more)

Blend ingredients in jar with a tight cover that can be shaken well.  Add enough salt to balance the sweet. The measurements for this dressing are estimates, as I was just adding and mixing. May have actually had a little more brown sugar. Taste until you like the balance of tang to sweet.

This jar of dressing will probably dress at least twice, if not 3x the salad ingredients listed above. Store unused dressing in the refrigerator.


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