Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lovely Autumn Salad

Recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food and Tested in Alice's Kitchen

We had good friends over for dinner last night and we had this salad. It was the star of the dinner. You will find all the ingredients you need for this salad at the Lost River Market & Deli. The salad was gorgeous to look at with the bright arugula, the golden butternut squash/sweet potatoes and crusty brown nuts. Roasting chunks of sweet potatoes or butternut squash caramelizes them -- they're great to eat all on their own or tossed with crunchy nuts, tangy cheese, and crisp watercress or arugula.

Serves 4
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks or butternut squash
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey (I used a bit more, about 2 teaspoons)
2 bunches watercress (12 ounces total), stems trimmed or 1 package of arugula
4 ounces feta, crumbled (blue cheese or goat cheese will make good substitutes)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks on upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast on upper rack, until tender, 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway through.
On another rimmed baking sheet, toss walnuts with cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Bake on lower rack, until golden, 6 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Add watercress, and toss to combine. Serve topped with sweet potatoes, walnuts, and feta.
Make-ahead: Make all the salad components in advance and then just before serving, place on salad plates and then drizzle with the dressing.

arugula [ah-ROO-guh-lah] is a bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavor. The leaves should be bright green and fresh looking. Its leaves hold a tremendous amount of grit and must be thoroughly washed just before using. Arugula makes a lively addition to salads, soups and sautéed vegetable dishes. It's a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C.

watercress is a member of the mustard family, which can often be found in the wild in and around streams and brooks. Watercress has small, crisp, dark green leaves. Its pungent flavor is slightly bitter and has a peppery snap. Watercress is available year-round and is customarily sold in small bouquets. Choose crisp leaves with deep, vibrant color. There should be no sign of yellowing or wilting. Refrigerate in a plastic bag (or stems-down in a glass of water covered with a plastic bag) for up to 5 days. Wash and shake dry just before using. Watercress may be used in salads, sandwiches, soups and a variety of cooked dishes. It's also a popular garnish.

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