Well, it’s full on fall around here. The leaves have changed to all shades of vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges; it’s a kaleidoscope of color as they dance their way to the ground to be crunched under tiny, warm boots on the way to classes. It’s the time of year when you need lots of layers to take on the ever-unpredictable weather.
The cool mornings and warmer afternoons produce delicate sweet lettuces that are full of flavor. The fall harvests are still trickling in and begging to be taken advantage of; there’s veggies galore available, which means it’s the perfect time for this Autumn Arugula Salad with Acorn Squash and Candied Pecans.
As the leaves fall, the air cools, and frost begins to show up in the mornings, it always seems like it’s time for a steaming bowl of soup. Then the sun comes out and as the day warms up you start thinking it may very well be too hot for soup after all. Other days it seems to start off warm, and then the rain comes in and suddenly the air is crisp and chilly. It’s days like these that are made for a fall salad.
The acorn squash used in this salad is salted and roasted to a glorious, almost caramelized golden color and laid on a bed of peppery arugula. The candied pecans have a sweet and salty flavor that add some intrigue and color as well as some crunch, while the apples bring forward a freshness that is so desperately needed. A simple apple cider and Dijon vinaigrette is the perfect touch to round out the entire dish.
Aside from perhaps chopping an apple before serving, everything else can be prepared and then stored in the fridge for a few days, so this is a great salad to make on Sunday and munch on all week long, keeping the flavors of fall right at your fingertips.
Autumn Arugula Salad with Acorn Squash and Candied Pecans
- 1 acorn squash, sliced in 1/2-inch thick rounds and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whole pecans, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 1 apple, sliced
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons honey, to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil.
- salt and pepper, to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place squash slices on a large baking sheet. Drizzle the squash with oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and place in the oven. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the squash is golden and tender.
Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the butter, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook while stirring until nuts are fragrant and well coated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
On each plate add about 1 1/2 cups of arugula. Add the squash, apple, and pecans and set aside.
Combine the Dijon, cider vinegar, honey, oil, salt, and pepper in glass jar, then seal the lid and shake until the honey dissolves and the ingredients are well combined.
Adjust flavor to taste, if necessary, and drizzle over the prepared salad. Serve immediately.