Oh boy, what a week. This has been a very difficult election year. And now we’ve gone from the possibility of having the first woman president to … someone who’s description is not suitable for this space, it’s just too ugly for my blog. He doesn't share my values or morals. So I won’t go there. I’m going to go back to last week when I roasted winter squash over an open fire. Ah, the good old days. This was my first time cooking over a fire pit and it’s very different than cooking over a grill where you can give fairly specific cook times. Here you just get a really good fire going, let it die down a bit, put your food on and remove it when it’s done. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I almost abandoned the idea as I was eyeing the gas grill. It would be so much quicker! But not nearly as fun. And the flavor! There is no comparison. I really want to do more open fire cooking when I can. It takes more time but the smoky flavor is worth it.
Ava Gene’s had posted a Youtube video on how to make this salad. If you are ever in Portland this is one of the best restaurants in town. Chef Josh McFadden really knows how to work with vegetables and flavors. He recommends not putting oil on the squash, let the squash caramelize from its own sugars over the fire, adding whole leaf mint to the salad, he’s all about big flavor and it works. This salad is delicious. The squash is smoky and sweet, peppery flavors from the arugula, texture and flavors from the pumpkin seeds (which you can either toast or add raw).
I hope to bring you more open fire cooking. It’s a little tricky these days as we’re getting into our rainy season and October was just relentless, so I’ll just work around the weather.
Winter Squash Salad
- 1 acorn squash or butternut squash (or both)
- 1 delicata squash
- 1 Apple
- 1/2 cup torn chanterelle mushrooms
- 4 cups arugula
- 2 scallions, cut on diagonal in 1/2”-1” slices
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- A handful of fresh mint
- salt and cracked pepper
- 1/4 olive oil
Start your logs about 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to cooking. Adding logs one at a time I ended up using 4 logs.
Cut acorn squash in quarters (or butternut squash in half the long way), scoop out seeds
Slice the delicata squash about 3/4” slices, remove seeds
You can pre-bake the squash in the oven for a quicker roast time over the fire pit. about 20 minutes at 400°F. You will still get a nice smoky flavor from the fire. Tear the chanterelle mushrooms in large strips into a metal basket. The mushrooms will cook fairly quick as well, move to the side of fire if the heat is too intense. They will be a bit browned when done, remove and allow to cool.
Place the squash on metal rack over the fire pit. Cooking time will vary depending on the intensity of the fire and whether you pre-baked the squash. The delicata squash will be done fairly quickly, while the acorn or butternut will take longer, up to an hour. The squash should be charred and tender when done, then place on dish to cool a bit.
Chop scallions in large chunks on a diagonal, place in ice water bath to crisp. Core and slice apple in large chunks.
When everything is prepared, place arugula in large bowl, add the squash (cut in large chunks), apple, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, whole leaf of fresh mint. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.