I won! Many of you asked for the recipe when I told you I was one of the winners for Harvest Moon restaurant’s recipe contest. Scott and I visited Harvest Moon Cafe at the end of last year on one of our road trip adventures in Rome, Georgia. They were having a recipe contest so after buying an assortment of apples at the Red Apple Barn in Ellijay, GA, I came home and came up with Apple and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad.
It was Christmastime in Rome (GA) and the trees in the middle of the historic downtown streets were twinkling with thousands of little lights. We hailed a Roman Chariot which turned out to be a holiday-decorated 9 seater golf cart with a charming driver. I couldn’t stop talking about the clever name of our chosen mode of transportation. It gave me the idea to give our golf cart shuttles for the Gardendale Magnolia Festival (yes, shameless plug-you must come) “The Magnolia Express”. We are hanging magnolia wreaths in the back of the golf carts.
The Roman Chariot dropped us off at the recommended Harvest Moon Cafe. Sometimes you can tell by the vibe in the restaurant and the decorations on the walls you are going to like the food and this was certainly the case. The card on the table said they were having a recipe contest and the winner’s recipe would be on the Spring menu-so I entered and won!
I wasn’t able to travel back to GA for the tasting but they sent me this flyer. To see the Spring menu on their website click here. I also screenshotted (is that a word?) it here because they will change their menu at some point.
So that’s how this yummy salad came about. Enough reminiscing and on to the recipe! Wait. Just one more picture of Ellijay, GA because I soooo want to go back during the Apple Festival.
This recipe is not one of my typical shortcut recipes but several of the components can be purchased and not made from scratch to shorten the recipe. Candied pecans and almonds are sold next to the croutons. Ken’s Dressing now sells an Apple Cider Vinaigrette and butternut squash can be purchased already cubed. Those tips ought to save you a lot of time. Here we go….
First, make the candied pecans. At first, you will think the granulated sugar will NEVER melt. Be patient. It will.
Next, cube the butternut squash. My best tip for cutting butternut squash is to nuke it in the microwave 1 minute. It magically softens the squash so you can cut it fairly easily with a large chef knife. I use the OXO Y peeler to remove the tough peel. The shape allows you to pull down with more force than the regular vegetable peeler. Trust me. It makes a difference.
High heat is a must when you are roasting vegetables. Don’t be tempted to stir often. In the recipe, I tell you to bake 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. If you don’t see brown, don’t turn them! The browned edges not only look good in the salad, the caramelized natural sugar tastes amazing!
Arrange all the “particulates” as we call them in the food styling world on top of the mixed greens. You really can’t go wrong with any apple so pick your favorite! My recipe calls for Stayman-Winesap and Pink Lady because that’s what I bought at the Red Apple Barn on my trip and I wanted to use their local apples. Right now, blackberries sound yummy to substitute. Hmmm… I think I have some in the fridge!
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium-size Stayman-Winesap or Pink Lady apples thinly sliced or 1/2-inch cubes
- 9 cups mixed spring greens that include arugula
- 3 slices applewood bacon cooked and crumbled
- Candied Pecans
- 1 4-oz log goat cheese, crumbled
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel, seed and cut butternut squash into 1/2-3/4-inch cubes; toss with olive oil and spread them out in a small roasting pan or baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned then turn them with tongs. Bake an additional 5 minutes or just until slightly soft. You don’t want them mushy but certainly not crunchy. Remove from pan and let cool.
Place spring greens on six salad plates; sprinkle with butternut squash and arrange with apple. Top with bacon, Candied Pecans, and goat cheese. Drizzle each serving with about 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Yield: 6 servings.
1 tablespoon salted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat; add sugar and pecans. Stir often about 5 to 6 minutes or until pecans are toasted and sugar is melted.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar OR 1/4 cup fresh apple cider + 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pressed garlic or 1 teaspoon grated shallot
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil
Whisk together first 4 ingredients, then slowly add oil, whisking quickly.