Delicata Squash Salad with Orange-Cranberries & Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Dressing

I only got a few groceries last night, but I feel like I have so many delicious things I want to cook. And I want to cook them all at once. Thankfully, I realize it's too much to tackle in one night. I was so excited to leave work on time today to come home a cook a delicious cozy dinner.

I planned on having some scallops, a potato leek soup, and a salad with delicata squash. Then, as I baked some chicken for Misty, I realized I should just eat some of the chicken and the salad, maybe some roast corn, and call it a night. Scallops and soup can wait 'till tomorrow. And that gives me a reason to save the other half of the bottle of wine I picked up for tomorrow's dinner, rather than polish it off tonight (all alone)... (you know I want to, you know that).

Misty knows something good is cooking for her. The house is filled with gorgeous smells of roasting chicken and squash. She's sitting under my feet at the computer, but gets up to sniff from a safe distance every time I open the oven. If I open the fridge she's got her nose in there full-force, but seems smart enough to know the oven is too hot for her snout. She's much more involved in the kitchen than Amit, who usually plants himself in his couch-divot to compute and game-watch.
Misty thoroughly enjoyed some chicken-fat topped foods, and ate much more than usual, which is a good thing. We worry she's anorexic sometimes, which REALLY doesn't fit our lifestyle here. The star of MY dinner however, was the crazy-ass awesome-sauce salad I made with the Delicata squash.

Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Vinegar from Savannah, GA
The salad would have been simply excellent, but what made it mind-blowing was the blackberry-ginger flavored balsamic vinegar my neighbor friends gave me for catsitting while they were in Savannah a couple weeks ago.  It made such an amazing dressing for an autumn salad of sweet vs. savory and creamy vs. crunch. If you can get your hands on some special fruity balsamic, try using it on a salad like this.

Delicata Squash Salad with Orange-Cranberries & Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Dressing
2 Servings

1 small Delicata squash, sliced into 1/2" rings, seeds removed
Olive oil, sea salt, black pepper

3 T dried cranberries
1/4 C orange juice
2T olive oil
1 T very good balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction -  preferably fruit-infused such as Blackberry-Ginger

2 C baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 C toasted walnuts
4 T plain chevre goat cheese

1. Heat oven to 425F

2. Drizzle oil on a baking sheet and place the squash rings on top. Drizzle them with a bit of oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 30-45 minutes, golden and tender.

3. Place cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Simmer until reduce to about 1 T of liquid. Pour the liquid off into a measuring cup and reserve the cranberries for topping the salad.

4. To the cranberry-orange liquid, add 2 T olive oil and 1 T balsamic vinegar and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust ratios if needed, as it will depend on the type of vinegar used.

5. Place spinach on salad plates and top with roasted squash rings, a couple tablespoons of goat cheese, walnuts, cranberries and dressing.

If you want the EXACT same experience as I, pair with a light white wine like Pannonhalmi Apátsági Tricollis White 2009, from Hungary.


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