June 01, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Salad with feta and toasted pecans

My husband isn’t your typical “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. It is so nice to have him as my guinea pig because he will eat anything I make, and more often than not, he will love it. He likes recipes that push the boundaries and have a lot of unique flavours. He also really likes vegetables, so we eat a lot of salads. I have a lot of salad recipes to share with you, and I am going to start with this gem I made last night.

Pumpkins are really popular in Australia. Where as back home we have pumpkins around certain holidays – maybe a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and the odd butternut squash soup in autumn, here they seem to be eaten year-round in everything. Pumpkins, here, can be found in pastas, roasted in salads, even on top of pizzas!

When I saw this recipe that incorporates what I would call a butternut squash but what is called a butternut pumpkin here in Oz, I thought it looked fantastic. Guess what…IT WAS!

This was adapted from Laura Pensiero’s salad, Gigi Barbina.

4 small beets, whole
½ a small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ lb white mushrooms, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups of the best lettuce you can find, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces (I used red and green oak leaf which looked fresh in the store)
½ cup of feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup of toasted pecans, chopped fine

1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp fat free mayonnaise
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Wrap each beet in aluminium foil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. When the beets have been in oven for 15 minutes, add the squash on the baking sheet. Bake until soft and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Set roasted beets and squash aside to cool, and use the same pan to roast the mushrooms until starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Add shallot, mayo, vinegar and mustard to a blender, pulsing just to mix. With the blender running, slowly add the oils to emulsify.

3. Toss the dressing with the lettuce and dish onto plates. Top each dish with roasted vegetables, feta and pecans.

Serve and prepare to take your praise!