Winter salads can be boring.  My solution is to add a special ingredient, like roasted butternut squash.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of the vegetable and gives it a great texture.  Adding a good balsamic vinaigrette and candied walnuts or pecans (buy Pecan Pralines if you don’t feel like making them yourself) make this salad absolutely delicious.  Top it with some crumbled goat cheese for an extra special touch.  Serve this salad at brunch, lunch or dinner.

Mesclun Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

½ medium butternut squash, peeled and diced in ½” pieces

1 large shallot, cut into quarters

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

½ Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped

salt and pepper

5 ounces mesclun greens or other salad mix

¼ cup candied walnuts or pecan pralines, chopped

Balsamic vinaigrette (homemade or store-bought)

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

1.            Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss squash with shallot, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet until well coated.  Arrange in a single layer and roast in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes, and cook until squash is soft and slightly browned.  Once cooked, chop shallot into small pieces and mix with squash.  Squash mixture can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.  Cool before adding to salad.

2.            Place mesclun greens in large serving bowl.  Top with roasted squash mixture, candied nuts and balsamic vinaigrette.  Toss until well combined.  Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese, if you are using it.   Serve immediately.

Serves 6