Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She’s one of my food writing idols, and I feel honored to call her my friend, as well.
When Sara Kate offered to send me a copy of her new book Good Food to Share (Williams-Sonoma): Recipes for Entertaining with Family & Friends, I was thrilled. I own lots of cookbooks (I did a quick tally this morning and counted over 200, in fact), and love adding new titles to my collection.
From the moment I cracked it open, however, I knew this wasn’t just another cookbook. Sara-Kate’s fun writing style and the numerous stunning photos by Ray Kachatorian grabbed me right away: I couldn’t wait to mix up one of the pretty cocktails and get cooking. Her recipes are simple, yet elegant, and so far I’ve tried the Short Ribs Braised in Balsamic, the Roasted Beet Salad, the Fattoush Salad, the Caramelized Cauliflower Steaks, the Roasted Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic, and the Grilled Steak with Charmoula. I found each one of them delicious and worthy of making many times over.
Good Food to Share is more than just a terrific collection of recipes, though: the book is also filled with fantastic tips for stylish, but stress-free entertaining. I will freely admit that as much I like to cook, entertaining does not come easy to me. Now that I am armed with this treasure, however, instead of going into the upcoming holiday season with my typical angst, I simply can’t wait to have people over.
Sara Kate gave me permission to share one of the recipes from the book with you, and I chose this Roasted Squash Salad with Dates and Spicy Pecans because it’s unbelievably delicious, and absolutely perfect for fall. I substituted butternut for the acorn squash (because I ended up with some beautiful ones growing out of my compost this year), and I didn’t have parchment paper so used additional olive oil when roasting the squash. I made no other changes to the recipe.
Please know that even if you never get around to making this salad, it would be a huge mistake to never make these spicy pecans. Trust me on this, ok? They’re amazing.
Recipe for Roasted Squash Salad with Spicy Pecans from Good Food To Share
As Sara Kate writes in the book, this salad is the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, pastas, or soups. It would also make a great light meal on its own, along with bread and a cheese plate.
*Olive oil cooking spray
*1 tablespoon sugar
*Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
*4 tablespoons (3 oz./90 g) honey
*1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
*3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) pecan halves
*1 large acorn squash, 1 1/2-2 lb (750g- 1 kg)
*6 tablespoons (3 fl oz/90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
*1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) champagne vinegar
*1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*1 large head or 2 small heads curly endive, about 10 oz (315 gr) total weight, cored, tough stems removed, and torn into bite-size pieces
*3/4 cup (4 oz/125 g) dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat the parchment with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
3. In a frying pan, warm 2 tablespoons of the honey over low heat. Add the cayenne and stir to mix well. Add the pecans and stir to coat. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then add the nuts to the bowl with the sugar mixture, and toss to coat. Discard the parchment paper and spread the pecans out in a single layer on the baking sheet to cool completely.
4. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat generously with cooking spray.
5. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut the flesh crosswise into slices 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Pile the squash on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the squash out in a single layer. Roast, turning several times, until fork-tender and lightly browned all over, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
6. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and the remaining 2 tablespoons honey. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Put the endive in a large salad bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the warm squash, the pecans, and the dates, and toss to combine. Serve right away.
Combine the salad greens and shallots in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Drizzle just enough of the dressing over the salad to coat lightly, and toss gently. Divide the greens among six plates and scatter the pecans, squash, and pears over the greens. Drizzle with a little more dressing if desired and serve.
nutrition information (per serving):
Appears with permission from Good Food to Share. Recipes by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan; photographs by Ray Kachatorian. Copyright 2011 by Weldon Owen Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc.