Roasted vegetables for a winter salad


Spring may be on its way, but the farmers markets where I live are still dominated by winter vegetables.  California asparagus has arrived in some markets, it’s true.  Yet even if it shows up where I shop this week,  there’s no question it will be expensive.  I’ll wait until the quality goes up and the price goes down.

In the meantime, we’re taking a new perspective on cold weather produce at our house with this roasted vegetable salad tossed in a sprightly vinaigrette.   I spotted this combination of brussels sprouts, squash, and broccoli in a salad displayed at Carried Away, an Aptos take-out shop, a couple of weeks ago and was tantalized by the concept.  It sounded so good, I just had to make my own.

The results were every bit as tasty as I’d imagined.  Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables, adding a little sweetness.  At the same time, it brings out the nutty, savory flavors of the sprouts.    The butternut squash becomes soft and yielding while the brussels sprouts and broccoli retain a little crunch.

All the flavors come together with a simple vinaigrette spiked with sherry vinegar, shallots and Dijon mustard. Although I use a mild walnut oil and Spanish sherry vinegar to complement the brussels sprouts, the dressing should work with canola oil and red wine vinegar, too.  The mustard and shallots are essential.

This salad needs to be tossed together at least an hour before serving, so the warm vegetables have time to soak up the dressing.  It’s best at room temperature but I happily ate the leftovers straight out of the refrigerator.

When great asparagus finally arrives, I bet it also will be good drizzled with this dressing.  Until then, this salad will perk up winter meals.

Serves 4

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 pound broccoli, florets separated and stems cut into ½-inch rounds
1 pound small brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup walnut oil
2½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Since the vegetables cook at different rates, you’ll want to line two baking trays with parchment paper or foil.  The squash and broccoli can roast together on one tray and the brussels sprouts on the other.  In a large bowl, toss each vegetable in succession with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast vegetables until they are easily pierced by a small sharp knife.  The squash and broccoli should take about 20 minutes and the brussels sprouts about 30 minutes.  Return cooked vegetables to the  bowl.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the dressing by whisking vinegar, mustard, shallot and ½ teaspoon salt together in a small bowl.  Slowly add oil while whisking steadily to produce an emulsion. Correct seasoning and add several grinds of pepper.

Pour about half the dressing over the cooked vegetables and toss.  Let stand for about 5 minutes and taste.  Add more dressing or seasoning if needed and toss again.  Let stand about an hour until ready to serve.

-Aleta Watson

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