Although I love roasted turkey, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a “sides” gal. When I was a kid, this meant swirling my green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, frozen corn, dressing and jellied cranberry sauce into a heaping forkful of bliss. I’ve thankfully gotten over the swirl-and-smash-my-food phase, and we’ve transitioned from semi-processed to seasonal, made-from-scratch sides (although the frozen corn remains, at my Dad’s insistence). This salad would a beautiful addition to any Thanksgiving table, either as a side, or as a starter. Half moons of Delicata squash get brushed with maple syrup, Dijon mustard and sea salt, and are roasted until caramelized. They’re a great side dish on their own, but they’re a showstopper on top of a tangled bed of greens (I prefer something slightly bitter, like arugula or baby mustard greens) and sprinkled with tart and sweet Pomegranate seeds, toasted hazelnuts and creamy goat cheese. It’s a combination of textures and flavors that hits every mark on the palate.
The delicata squash can be roasted in the morning and left at room temperature (or it can be roasted while the turkey cooks), and the dressing can be made a few days in advance. The hazelnuts can also be roasted in advance, and the pomegranate seeds can be picked out a few days before (in this video I’ll show you how to get those seeds out without making a red mess of yourself and your kitchen). If you don’t want to mess with the pomegranates, you could swap in dried cranberries.
We spend Thanksgiving with my family or with James’s family, and to be honest, I hardly do any cooking. My mom or my mother-in-law handles the bulk of the meal, and I must admit that I savor not being in charge. It’s a rare treat for me to have a break from the kitchen, and plus, nothing tastes better than a mom’s cooking, no matter what she’s making.
I hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for.
Oh, and if you need a few tips on that turkey, these videos I did with Fine Cooking magazine might help:
The secret to a juicy roast turkey
How to carve a turkey
How to brine a turkey in a cooler
Maple-Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Goat Cheese & Pomegranate Seeds
- 1 1-1 ½-pound Delicata squash
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about ½ small shallot)
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch greens, such as baby mustard, arugula, spinach, escarole, mizuna or mache, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
- 4-ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts or pecans
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Cut off both ends of the squash then cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out and discard the seeds. Cut the squash into ½-inch slices.
- On a large baking sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup and Dijon. Brush both sides of the squash slices with the maple mixture and season with salt and pepper. Line the slices in 1 layer on the baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Carefully flip the slices over and continue to roast for 5-10 minutes, or until golden around the edges and tender. Nudge each slice gently to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan (you can leave them on the pan). Do Ahead: The squash can be roasted up to 6 hours ahead and left at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl or jar, whisk together the shallots, garlic, Dijon, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit 5-10 minutes to let the flavors infuse. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil (or shake it all up in a jar). Do Ahead: The dressing can be made 2 days ahead and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- To serve, in a large bowl, toss the greens with just enough dressing to coat (you might not need all of the dressing). Arrange the greens on a large platter or on individual plates. Place the squash slices on top of the greens and drizzle with a bit more dressing. Sprinkle the goat cheese, toasted nuts and pomegranate seeds over top.