The real standouts in this recipe are the roasted pears and squash. I can see serving that up as its own side dish. The pear I had was very firm and I worried it would be a bit tasteless but roasting it brought out its sweetness nicely. I suspect that a riper pear wouldn't have worked as well. The rest of the salad is doused with a simple, light vinaigrette which is contrasted by the bold blue cheese, toasted pepitas and crisp green garnishes.
A salad is a little bit of a funny thing to post on such a candy-filled holiday, and as good as this recipe is, don't think I didn't wish I were stuffing my face with a large assortment of seasonal sugary goodness. This reminded me of one of my favorite David Sedaris stories, Us & Them, which touches on the important categorization of the Halloween candy ritual that I am certain most of us did at one point or another.
My own top tier pile consisted of Baby Ruth, Dots, Almond Joy, Reeses Pieces, Starburst (not the orange ones though), Bit O'Honey and Good & Plenty. The second tier was made up of most everything else. Lastly, the bottom tier, which I eventually threw away unless I was in a desperate situation, was a sad mixture of smarties, sweet tarts, dum dum's, that crap gum that lost its flavor in 5 seconds, and Milky Way/3 Musketeer bars. I won't even talk about the neighbors who gave out nickels.
For 2-3 servings:
- 1/2 cup black quinoa
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 1/2 a small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups worth)
- 1 large firm Bosc Pear, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Thin slices of blue cheese, for garnish
- A handful of mixed lettuces
- 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°f (190°c). In a medium bowl combine the squash, pears, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, toss, and roast for 15-20 minutes more. Remove from the oven.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the warm grains to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the roasted squash and pears and gently toss with the grains.
To serve, spoon the grain mixture onto a plate. Garnish with a few leaves of lettuce, a couple slices of blue cheese and the pepitas. Serve warm.