I think I might be finally be emerging from my Thanksgiving food coma.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday – really, what could possibly top a day devoted entirely to family and friends and feasting? (Specifically feasting on carb-laden wonders such as stuffing and pies, that is.)
For years, I greedily parsed through a stack of glossy November food magazines, obsessively planning exactly what I would add to the Thanksgiving table. But lately, I’ve come close to settling on my own personal slate of favorite recipes. My yearly go-tos include an Apple, Sage and Sausage Stuffing, a Spiced Cranberry-Pear Compote, a Brown-Butter Bourbon Pecan Pie, and a Dutch Apple Pie.
But this year, we hosted a party of 18 at House Morell… a fantastic Friendsgiving. The Thanksgiving control-freak in me briefly toyed with the idea of cooking everything myself, but that moment of insanity evaporated when our friends offered to deep-fry turkeys in our back garden. You know you are blessed with seriously awesome friends when they show up on Thanksgiving with turkeys and a deep-fryer.
Each guest contributed a personal favorite to our Thanksgiving mosaic … We started with gorgeous Bacon-wrapped dates anda to a to-die-for melted Jarlsburg cheese dip. Friends spoiled us with bottles of carefully selected wines, and the college kid set up a bar for made-to-order cocktails.
A delicious spiral sliced ham from the Organic Butcher joined the turkey on the buffet. Pot-luck sides included a traditional from-the-back-of-the-Campbell’s soup can Classic Green Bean Casserole, balsamic roasted brussels sprouts, rich and creamy mashed potatoes, and Pillsbury Crescent rolls – a must at House Morell.
A note on those rolls. My dear Australian friend Fiona, who is a simply exquisite cook, offered to either bake rolls with her sour-dough starter, or order them from Dean and Deluca. In her several years here in the US, she had never been introduced to the preservative-laden wonders that simply MUST grace our Thanksgiving table. I filled her in, texted her a picture, and send her to the refrigerated section of the local supermarket because OF COURSE that’s where rolls live. I think she has been converted. Or perhaps simply being polite.
Every year I still need to try a few new dishes. I just can’t help myself. This year, I finally discovered a perfect cornbread… and created this lovely Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Red Onions, Goat Cheese and Pecans.
I feel a Thanksgiving table wouldn’t be complete without a bit of squash, and this seemed a lovely way to make it happen. And it’s conveniently super simple to throw together. Just toss the diced squashed and slivered red onion in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast it on high heat until the squash is tender and the onions have wilted into sweetened strands of yumminess. Then simply layer the roasted squash and onions onto a bed of greens tossed with a quick balsamic vinaigrette, then add generous portions of goat cheese and pecans.
Our youngest son deemed last week’s gathering “The Best Thanksgiving Ever.” And I believe it was. We have so much to be thankful for…
Including this salad. I’m going to make it all winter long to remind us of that awesome gathering.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Onion, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad
Serves: 10-12 as a side
- 6-8 cups mixed spring greens or spinach
- 1 large butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
- 1 small red onion, thinly slivered
- 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 cup roasted salted pecans
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the butternut squash and the slivered red onions with a generous drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Take out of the oven and set aside.
- Make the vinaigrette: place the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dijon in a small jar with a lid. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover, and shake until the the vinegar and olive oil are combined.
- Place the greens on a platter, or in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss. I like a light coating of dressing, so only use about ⅓ of the dressing. Next, decoratively layer the butternut squash and onions, the goat cheese and the pecans on the salad and serve.