Recipes for roasted veggies are always so similar, coat veggies with olive oil, season any way you particularly like, roast. Done. But this one has a little unexpected (to me) twist. Instead of olive oil, you’ll use butter. I know, so out of fashion, so frowned upon by the Health Police. This method was featured on a recent America’s Test Kitchen TV show, and I was obviously intrigued. I modified it a bit to our taste. The butter helps that gorgeous browning and adds a nutty flavor that goes well with the cashews.  It all works beautifully.

(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut in slices (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground paprika
for cashew topping:
1 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup cashew nuts
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss squash slices with melted butter, season with  salt and paprika until evenly coated. Arrange seasoned slices on a rimmed baking sheet, if possible in a single layer, but some overlapping is ok. Roast for about 25  minutes, flip pieces and roast 15 minutes longer.

While squash roasts, melt butter with cashew nuts in a small skillet.  Cook until cashews start to get golden, keep a close eye on the pan. It will burn if you leave it cooking for longer than a couple of minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Transfer roasted squash to a serving dish, mix with the sautéed cashews and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I talked about this recipe on my Facebook page, and a dear friend mentioned that she had a similar dish at a restaurant and loved it, but in that preparation they included crumbled feta on top. I know exactly how I’ll make it next time, and urge you to do so if you make it yourself. Sounds perfect to me.

The butter definitely makes the roast butternut quite special, as it cooks in the oven it gets that “browned butter” quality that is so wonderful both in savory and sweet dishes. I know many people are anti-butter these days, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every once in a while in a dish like this one. Totally worth it.

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The moment I saw this recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking, I knew I had to make it right away.  First, because it involves asparagus.  Secondly, because they are prepared in a novel way  – the spears are shaved as ribbons.    I am already quite fond of thinly sliced raw asparagus as in this farro salad, so I looked forward to trying this new (to me, anyway ;-)) method to serve them.

(adapted from Fine Coking magazine)

for the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar  (or 1 Tablespoon honey)
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
salt and  black pepper to taste

for the salad:
1/2 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed
2 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup toasted cashew nuts
2 oz. thinly shaved aged Gouda

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, agave nectar, shallots in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate if not using right away.

Remove the tips of the asparagus and put them in a large bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a stalk discarding the first shaving, which will contain only the thick outer layer.  When shaving the first side becomes awkward, turn stalk over and repeat. Add all shavings to the bowl with the tips. Repeat with remaining stalks. Toss asparagus with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  Add arugula and toss, adding more dressing if needed to coat the leaves.  Top with the shaved cheese and cashews, adjust seasoning and serve right away.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This salad dressing is very close to perfection.  The original recipe used honey, but I’m so fond of agave nectar that whenever I have the opportunity, I use it instead.  Once you add the dressing to the shaved asparagus, the transformation is quite obvious: within a few minutes the ribbons start to soften up.   Don’t do it too early, or they will get mushy.   For obvious reasons, the salad won’t keep at its best for very long, so if you are serving it at a dinner party, keep that in mind.    The asparagus tips will retain most of their bite, adding a nice texture together with the cashew nuts.

At first, I thought about substituting parmiggiano or ricotta salata for the cheese component of this recipe. Aged Gouda is not a cheese we normally buy, but its slightly smoked taste worked surprisingly well with the arugula and asparagus.  We gave it two thumbs up!

I can see many variations of this recipe during Spring and Summer months.  And, I was not the only one who enjoyed it: browsing through “One Perfect Bite” the other day, I noticed that Mary also loved it.  Check it out by jumping here.

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