Throughout the summer I love to eat salads.  When the fall rolls around we tend to leave the salad in the previous season and opt for heartier dishes.  However, the autumnal harvest can yield wonderful salad ingredients.  Apples, squash, pears, and beets pair beautifully in salads.  At the farmer’s market I found an abundance of squash.  I love the nutty, earthy, sweet flavors associated with squash.  It’s so versatile and comforting and I opted to pair its deep flavors with bright pomegranate.  I also thought the colors would look so vibrant together, reflecting fall foliage.  This salad is a joy to look at as well as eat.

I roasted the acorn squash so it would caramelize and soften like butter.  I added Manchego cheese so that its mellow and slightly salty flavor would complement the squash and also allow the pomegranate flavor to stand out.   I wanted to add Marcona almonds as well, but didn’t have them on hand so I  used plain old toasted blanched slivered almonds.  The Harissa vinagrette is simple and delicious and adds a piquancy to the overall smooth taste to the salad.  Harissa should be available in your grocery store, if not try a speciality store.

Winter Salad with Acorn Squash, Pomegranate, Manchego, Almonds and a Harissa Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 ounces of baby arugula/baby spinach blend (or any greens you prefer)

1 small acorn squash

1/2 pomegranate, use as much as you want depending on the fruit’s size (reserve juice)

2 ounces Manchego cheese shaved with a vegetable peeler

1/4 cup toasted almonds (Marcona or slivered)

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the squash into 3-4 inch wedges.  Be very careful and use a sharp knife when cutting the squash because it is quite firm.  Toss it with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roast it in the oven for 45 minutes or until tender.  Cool slightly and remove the outer peel.  Next assemble the salad by plating the greens and lay the squash on top, sprinkle on pomegranate, cheese and almonds.  Add a some salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with vinaigrette.

Harissa Vinagrette:

Ingredients

1 clove garlic

1/4-1/2 teaspoon harissa paste (it’s spicy, so use your discretion)

4 tablespoons pomegranate juice that was reserved from the fresh pomegrante

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender then slowly steam in the olive oil until emulsified.  Toss with salad.

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