I adore hazelnuts. And I don’t use them enough, partly because they require pre-planning. Hazelnuts must be roasted to bring out their delicious flavor and crunch. I’m sure, somewhere, you can buy them pre-roasted, but it’s not quite the same. During the holiday season, I like to roast a few cups worth to have on hand for tossing in salads, making cookies or adding to nut/oat toppings for fruit crisps, etc. Once roasted, you can save whole hazelnuts in the freezer for up to a year. I used the roasting method described on Oregon Hazelnuts.
This salad came about partly because I had a few things left over after Thanksgiving that I had to use up before we headed out for vacation. My nutritionist had previously suggested that I roast sliced Delicata squash to have on hand for snacking, and I thought, why not toss it in a salad?
In this salad, I bring together some of my favorite cold weather flavors – Delicata squash roasted in a bit of coconut oil and basted with a watered down maple syrup glaze, bits of fresh goat cheese, dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness and hazelnuts for crunch, all mixed with baby romaine leaves or whatever green you want. YUM!
The recipe is highly adaptable – and serves as a starter or a side salad for a piece of roasted meat or poultry, but ramp up or ramp down the serving size and ingredient amounts depending on your needs – we have had it for both a side and a larger amount for a supper salad. It’s all good!
To make the vinaigrette, I have to recommend my favorite, super-quick salad dressing emulsifying tool, the Rosle twirl whisk. Dang, it does the greatest job emulsfying oil and vinegar into a thick dressing in a jif! I have had mine since my Whip & Spoon cooking class teaching days and would be lost without it. Consider this your stocking stuffer alert!
Roasted hazelnut oil is a bit of a splurge, but I like treating myself with some special condiments during the holiday season, so I opted for this on a recent grocery store trip. To ensure freshness, once you have opened it, store it in the fridge so that the oil doesn’t become rancid. It will last this way quite a while. Maybe forever, I’m not sure, I always use mine up. But be sure to use it for yourself, don’t wait for a special occasion. However, if you are not up for one more thing to store in the fridge, then substitute with extra-virgin olive oil. The dressing will be fine. I am definitely not someone who has shallots at the ready, so if I don’t have one hanging around, and I’m not up for battling the elements during winter, then I just leave it out!
In between parties, and general holiday frenzy, I hope that you will have the opportunity to make yourself something wonderful and healthy to eat!
- 3 cups whole unskinned hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 lbs. Delicata squash
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Ground nutmeg, to taste
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup hazelnut oil
- 1 shallot (optional)
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 10 – 12 ounces Salad greens such as baby romaine, mesclun or a mix of frisee and radicchio
- Hazelnut Vinaigrette
- Roasted Delicata Squash Slices
- 6 – 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
- ¾ - 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped
- ¾ -1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Roast hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, and then again after 5 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. They should smell toasted. Remove from oven and place them on a clean kitchen towel and twist closed.
- After 10 minutes, while they are still warm, vigorously massage the kitchen towel (yes, you are doing that) for several minutes so that the hazelnuts rub against each other which helps remove most of the papery brown skin. Pick up the hazelnuts individually (in order to leave the peelings behind) and place them in an airtight container until ready to use.
- For long term storage, freeze well wrapped whole hazelnuts for up to one year. Let them come to room temperature before continuing with recipe.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread coconut oil to lightly cover a large rimmed baking sheet. Trim off ends on squash, halve lengthwise, remove seeds and stringy membrane; discard. Slice into ½-inch pieces and place in a single layer on prepared pan. In a small bowl, mix maple syrup with 1 ½ tablespoons of water; brush on squash slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and turn slices over. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use in an airtight container, up to two days. Bring to room temperature before using.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard and oil until emulsified. Stir in shallot. Refrigerate in a covered airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Place desired amount of salad greens in a bowl roomy enough to toss the greens with your hands. Drizzle a small amount of the vinaigrette over the greens (you can always add more, but if you add too much at once the greens will be soggy and wilted). Toss with your hands until all the greens are coated. Divide among salad plates.
- Arrange roasted squash slices on each plate and scatter with morsels of goat cheese, cranberries and coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately, passing remaining dressing.