Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Apple Vinaigrette

You may have noticed the rather austere new look of this blog. Maybe it was a subconscious decision to shun the old, bright summery colours. The truth is, I've been planning a proper re-design for a while now. However, I'm not professional enough a blogger to know how to manipulate HTML, CSS, etc. well enough to take this on myself. So until I can find someone who can help me do this, I gave up and switched to one of the default 'dynamic' Blogger template things. I actually think it looks quite nice.

Autumn has arrived, properly this time. The weather has gone cold, and everything just seems a shade more grey, as it does in Edinburgh. I know I talk about the weather a lot on this blog, but this is the single biggest factor in deciding what to cook and what to wear, which are the two things I think about the most. Right now, it's that awkward transitional phase where it's gone cold but not cold enough for me to break out my beloved winter clothes. So I try to pair dresses with tights - basically my summer wardrobe with covered legs - but the damned wind is constantly bullying me by exposing my tights-clad bum (never flattering) to people walking behind me.

Cooking right now has kind of fallen into this meteorological limbo. I'm actually really looking forward to winter again. I know I'll take it back when I start sliding around on the icy death-pavements, but I want to start having an excuse to have the oven on for hours, with a beef and red wine stew in it. Until then, transitional will have to do.

Like this Warm salad: Butternut squash roasted in maple syrup with cranberries, on salad with a warm mustard vinaigrette. This is definitely a cold-weather salad, even though the bright orange of the squash is the first thing you see. It's an autumnal gold, not a summery orange. This recipe comes from the always-trusty Barefoot Contessa. I love her, with all my heart.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Apple Vinaigrette
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, by Ina Garten

Serves 2:

Half a butternut squash, peeled and diced into half-inch squares
Handful of dried cranberries
Bunch of rocket or mixed salad leaves
Handful of pumpkin seeds - I used a seed mix which has pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
A few shavings of parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Half cup apple juice
Quarter cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
Olive Oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 200°c. Lay the butternut squash cubes onto a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the squash is caramelised on the outside but soft and melting. For the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add the dried cranberries in with the squash.

While the squash is in the oven, heat up the vinegar and apple juice in a small saucepan. Simmer until it's reduced by three-quarters. Let cool slightly. Off the heat, add the mustard and remaining 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Mix together and then whisk in the olive oil. Season gently with salt and pepper.

On a plate or bowl, place the butternut squash and cranberries over the salad. Sprinkle with the seeds and the parmesan shards. Drizzle over the dressing and serve!