As the son of a ceramicist, Chef Aaron Bludorn knows a thing or two about the power of a great plate (or bowl!). At Café Boulud, he carefully curates the season's freshest ingredients, serving up sculptural dishes that look as impressive as they taste. This winter, he's particularly excited about the bounty of colorful squash, which he roasts, shaves and pickles for a truly dynamic dish. Note: This recipe involves multiple components, but can be made in advance as Sunday meal prep and enjoyed the rest of the week!
Roasted SquashSalad with pumpkin seeds, kale pesto and apple cider vinaigrette
Serves 3-4 Roasted Squash
1 lb assorted squash (Honey Nut, Delicata, Red Kuri, Acorn or Pumpkin)
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 325. In a bowl, mix cut squash with olive oil, salt, garlic, thyme and white pepper. Spread out on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and roast until tender. Pro tip: keep each type of squash separate when seasoning / roasting, as they may cook at different rates.
100g blanched kale
10g pumpkin seeds, toasted with salt and extra virgin olive oil
15g parmesan cheese
Blend garlic, parmesan, honey, salt, pumpkin seeds until completely smooth, then add kale and puree until desired consistency.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
10g late harvest cider vinegar (or aged sherry vinegar)
25g apple cider vinegar
15g dijon or whole grain mustard
Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender, then slowly drizzle olive oil in until completely emulsified.
Candied Pumpkin Seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
Make simple syrup. Blanch pumpkin seeds in simple syrup (for 10 seconds), then place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper to cool. Repeat blanching four more times. Cook in oven at 270 on low fan until dry and shiny. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
1 bunch kale
Korean red chili flakes (or other smokey chili flake)
Cut kale leaves into 2" by 2" diamond shapes. Toss lightly with salt, olive oil and chili flakes. Bake in oven at 275 on gentle fan until just dried but still green. Remove from oven and cool on rack until crispy.
Pickled Butternut Squash
1/2 butternut squash, peeled into ribbons
1 dried clove
1 cinnamon stick
1g star anise
1g Szechuan peppercorn
1g sage leaves
150g apple cider vinegar
Bring all ingredients (except squash) to a boil on the stovetop. Turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off and let steep for an additional 10 minutes. Strain spices from the mixture. Bring a pot of blanching water to a boil, and cook butternut squash ribbons for 45 seconds. Let cool in warm pickling liquid, then reserve in quart containers.
To Plate the Salad
Spread a generous amount of the pesto on a plate. (If you want to add extra greens, you can also add a generous handful of thinly sliced kale). Arrange warm roasted pieces of squash on top; then add a few ribbons of pickled squash. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top, and add a drizzle of the apple cider vinaigrette. Finally, add kale chips on top and serve.