harvest salad with maple-dijon vinaigrette

by Megan Fleiner in

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This salad has a little something for everyone. Peppery greens, sweet figs, butternut squash roasted with warm spices, and toasty hazelnuts. I dreamt in up during a yoga class last week... which is actually where a lot of my recipe ideas start. This may mean that I have a little trouble focusing, but like most things, my practice is a work in progress.

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The dressing takes a little more preparation than those I usually make it home, but it is all the more delicious, too. One head of garlic might seem like a bit much, until you read they part about roasting it. Have you ever roasted a head of garlic? It is my new favorite way to cook with this flavor powerhouse - it gives it a nice, soft texture that is easy to work with, and it has such a perfectly mild flavor. If you are short on time, just add 1 clove, minced, but I really recommend the roasted version. I roast a few heads at once and reserve them to use later in the week.

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The quantities in the recipe below will yield extra butternut squash and extra dressing - mainly because they are the most labor-intensive. I plan to use the extra squash in a frittata, on a flatbread, and more salad!  

Harvest Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

(Makes enough ingredients for 2 salads, with extra squash and dressing for later use. )

For the salad:

2 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup hazelnuts 

3 cups arugula, roughly chopped

6 figs, halved

1/2 cup micro greens (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil, salt, pepper, ginger, and nutmeg. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside until needed.

While the squash is cooking, add the hazelnuts to a small baking sheet and roast at 400 for 10 minutes. When they are done, put them in a kitchen towel and roll them around against each other until all or most of the skins fall off. Cut each hazelnut in half (or leave whole if you don't mind a bigger crunch). 

While the squash and hazelnuts are cooling, prepare the dressing (recipe below). 

To assemble, layer the following on each plate: 1 1/2 cups arugula, 1/4 cup squash, 6 fig halves, 1/8 cup hazelnuts, and 1/4 cup micro greens. Spoon dressing over the top and top with some freshly ground black pepper. 

For the dressing:

1 head garlic, roasted 

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop off the top of the head of garlic, exposing the tops of each clove. Place on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Close the foil up around the garlic, and roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until softened. Set aside and let cool.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze from the bottom to release the cloves into a small mixing bowl. Add the mustard and, using a fork, mash the garlic with the mustard until almost smooth. Whisk in the vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil until combined. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and whisk together, tasting for proportions. The leftover dressing will keep for a week in the fridge.