This salad does not have a fancy name, but it has a rock star appearance, plus a blast of fall flavors, and is always the most sought-after dish on our Thanksgiving table. I usually make it for my vegetarian friends, because it is a kind of a Thanksgiving-on-a-plate dish that kindles the holiday flames among the non-turkey eating folks, but the turkey-eaters fall in love with it too! —QueenSashy
butternut squash (about 3lb)
Burrata, cut into thin slices
balsamic vinegar (does not have to be your very best, since it will be reduced to make a glaze. Keep the expensive stuff for a dish that really needs it.)
white balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil (plus some more for drizzling)
First toast the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 360°F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts often to make sure that they toast evenly. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven when they are fragrant and golden, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Once the hazelnuts have cooled completely, rub them with your hands, or between two kitchen towels, to remove the skin. Cut the hazelnuts in half and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the stem off of the top of the squash and remove the bottom. With a vegetable peeler remove the skin. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Slice the flesh into 3/4-inch dice. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and toss to combine. Place the cubes on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. You want the cubes to be golden and slightly charred, yet still firm. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool.
Prepare the balsamic reduction. In a small skillet or saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer -- it will be a long and slow process -- until reduced to about a third of its original volume. (The reduction will thicken some more as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin it with a drop of water.) Remember, a long slow simmer on very low heat. (If you do not feel like making the glaze, you can always buy the pre-made one and skip this step.)
Prepare the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, hazelnut oil and white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and whisk until well blended and creamy. Taste and adjust acidity to your liking.
In a large bowl toss the arugula with the half of the vinaigrette. Arrange the arugula on a large platter. Top with the butternut squash cubes (you may not use all the cubes) and burrata. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with pepper (you might have some leftover vinaigrette). Spoon the balsamic reduction generously on top, finish with the hazelnuts and serve.
Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.