Warm Squash Salad with Teleme and Pepitas

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The extra step of both steaming and roasting the squash brings a caramelized taste to this autumnal salad. The oven-hot squash warms the spinach and melts the edges of the tart, semisoft Teleme, blending the flavors. Sometimes I substitute walnuts or hazelnuts for the pepitas.

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash, about lb (750 g)
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp walnut oil or hazelnut oil
  • 4 cups (4 oz/125 g) baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ lb (125 g)
  • Teleme cheese, cut into
  • ½-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • ¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Method

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Cut it in half lengthwise, then scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Cut the squash into small slices or ½-inch (12-mm) cubes. Bring water to a boil in a steamer pan. Arrange the squash pieces on the steamer rack, place over the boiling water, cover, and steam until just slightly tender when pierced with a fork, 8–10 minutes. Remove the squash from the steamer and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash pieces on the baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn to coat. Roast, turning once, until lightly golden, 10–12 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, using a fork, mix together the vinegars, the 2 tablespoons olive oil, the walnut oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the spinach and toss to coat well.

Divide the spinach equally among 4–6 plates. Top with the warm squash pieces, the cheese, and a sprinkling of pepitas. Serve at once.

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