Wednesday, November 16, 2011

for myself alone

Tonight was one of those nights where I cooked for myself alone. 

{kabocha squash}

{sliced, with olive oil, pepper, salt and fresh thyme}

{kabocha squash salad}

Normally I don't make salads for dinner. Daniel wrinkles his nose and looks at me as though I've served him rabbit food when I try, so I've mostly given it up- but not when I'm cooking for myself. When I was growing up, I thought the word salad was synonymous with lettuce. Now that I'm older and a little wiser (when it comes to salads, at least) I've realized how versatile salads can be. Not just greens, but all sorts of delicious treats that, if the salad is made right, play off one another to create a highly satisfying dish. It's a beautiful thing.

Kabocha squash salad with dandelion greens, pancetta, hazelnuts and pecorino romano, adapted from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques

1/2 cup hazelnuts
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 lbs kabocha squash
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2/3 lbs pancetta
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
8oz dandelion greens
1/4 cups sliced shallots
1/4 lb pecorino

Preheat oven to 375 and toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they smell nutty. 
While nuts are toasting, cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to remove the peel. Slice the squash into 3/4 inch wedges.
When hazelnuts are done, remove from oven and turn the heat to 425 
Toss the squash wedges with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, some pepper, and thyme. Place the squash flat on a baking sheet (I lined 2 baking sheets with tin foil and sprayed the foil with Pam) and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, cut pancetta into 2/3 inch slices. In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
Place cleaned dandelion greens in a large bowl. Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until it is brown but still tender. Lower heat to medium, add the shallots and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinaigrette to warm. Add the squash and the contents of the pan to the dandelion greens. Gently toss and taste for seasoning. 
Arrange the salad on a plate and use a vegetable peeler to shave some pecorino over the salad. Add hazelnuts.


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