For Dinner This Week

My pregnancy progresses. My energy level is getting a little lower each day, so I haven't been planning out a lot of meals ahead the way I normally do. However, I was watching a rerun of Barefoot Contessa the other day and saw her make this amazing looking butternut squash salad. I knew I had to make it soon, so I picked up a butternut squash at the farmer's market earlier this week. It turned out to be very tasty, so I thought I would share it with all of you. I know I will definitely be making this again.

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

3/4 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
6 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 small shallot minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula
1/4 cup toasted pecan halves (Ina Garten used walnuts, but I had pecans on hand. Both will work well.)
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place butternut squash on sheet pan. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the squash evenly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until squash is tender and lightly browned, turning once. During the last 5 minutes of baking, scatter the cranberries on the baking sheet. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the vinaigrette.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat combine the apple juice, vinegar and shallots. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is reduced to 3 or 4 tablespoons, about 6-8 minutes. Off heat whisk in mustard, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, and add the squash and cranberry mixture and pecans. Drizzle with the warm vinaigrette to coat. Toss and divide between two shallow bowls or plates. Top each serving with half of the parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

Serves two as a substantial side salad.

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