When the cold winds blow, we lean in to hearty foods, like baked pastas, casseroles, and mashed potatoes. When it’s time for your big holiday feast, you need a lively salad that punctuates all that comfort food with some crunch and color. You need my Roasted Squash and Pear Salad, with a Tart Cherry Vinaigrette.
Holiday Salads Save the Day
I know, everybody looks forward to their holiday faves, whatever they may be. Sometimes, the table gets crowded with heavy comfort food, with a token vegetable just to keep it legal. Don’t forget the salad! A Roasted Squash and Pear Salad with Tart Cherry Vinaigrette is the perfect holiday salad. Your diners will get palate fatigue from all those salty, rich foods, and need a bite of something light and crunchy. Even if they are saving room for pie, they will be drawn to this colorful salad, full of snap and drizzled with a tangy dressing.
Roasted Squash for a Salad
To roast the squash for this holiday salad, you’ll need a couple of small winter squashes and a 400 degree oven. I used a couple of “volunteer” squashes that came up in my garden, but you can use Sweet Dumpkings or Delicottas, any small winter squashes. Halve, seed, then cut in thin wedges. Then use your chef’s knife to slice the skin away on each wedge. This method is safer and easier, in my mind, than using a paring knife or peeler. Then oil an sheet of parchment on a sheet pan and place the squash wedges on it. Roast until very tender and browned, about 25-30 minutes, but it will vary depending on your squash.
Tart Cherry juice for a Vinaigrette
I love tart cherry juice, for its flavor and for its anti-inflammatory activity. I used a tart cherry concentrate that I buy at my Coop, which is pretty widely available. If you can’t find it, you can boil down some tart cherry juice until reduced to 1/4 its original volume. It’s wonderful in dressings like this one, in smoothies, drizzled on ice cream or fruit, and anything else where cherry flavor could complement the dish.
This is a great dish to bring to a party, too! A holiday salad is always a good idea.
Roasted Squash and Pear Salad
- 2 small winter squashes halved and seeded
- xvoo, salt
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons tart cherry concentrate
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus extra for pears
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large bosc pear
- 2 scalions sliced
- 5 ounces crunchy leaf lettuce
- 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the halved squash into thin wedges, then cut away the skins as shown in the video. Line a sheet pan with parchment and spread a bit of olive oil on it, place the squash slices on the oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, until very tender. Let cool
- In a medium bowl, place the shallots, then stir in the cherry concentrate, lemon, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Reserve.
- Quarter the pear vertically, then core and seed, drizzle with lemon. Cut in long slices. Slice the scallions.
- Build the salad with the lettuce on the bottom, then arrange the pears on it. Arrange the squash on top, then top with pecans, cherries, scallions and then drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.