I love winter squash–so sweet and nutty, rich and warm. Simply roasting the many varieties will give you a platter full of deep flavors and silky textures. But adding Chef Sarah Stegner’s brilliant green arugula-tahini vinaigrette, plus fried sage leaves, pomegranate, and pumpkin seeds puts this dish in another realm of delicious: Perfect for your Thanksgiving table.
“There are so many kinds of squash to work with!” says Stegner of Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook, IL. “Each of the local farms I source squash from seems to have one type it specializes in: Froggy Meadow grows beautiful Black Futsu and Blue Hubbard. Three Sisters does giant Butternut. And Nichols—while offering some of the more traditional squashes such as Acorn and Delicata, also grows Butterkins with really intense flavor.”
Stegner created this medley as the opening course for a special dinner celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Simply roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, the squash is very easy to make at home. So is the vinaigrette and garnish.
“A lot of home cooks shy away from fresh sage because it has such a powerful flavor,” notes Stegner. “But frying it transforms the herb and perfectly mellows it.”
Heirloom Squash Medley with Arugula-Tahini Vinaigrette, Fried Sage, Pomegranate and Pumpkin Seeds
Note: Depending on the size of the squash you purchase, you may have enough to fill two sheet pans. If not all of the squash on the ingredient list are available, try to use at least three varieties.
- FOR THE SQUASH MEDLEY:
- 1 - 2 small acorn squash
- 1 - 2 small Delicata squash
- 1 - 2 small Butterkin squash
- 1 Butternut squash
- 1 Blue Hubbard squash
- 1 Black Futsu Squash
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- FOR THE FRIED SAGE:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh sage (about 10 leaves)
- FOR THE ARUGULA TAHINI VINAIGRETTE:
- Oil from frying the sage (above)
- 1 cup arugula, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup parsley, loosely packed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, ends trimmed and discarded
- 2 heaping tablespoons tahini. (Note: stir tahini well to ensure oil and tahini are blended)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- FOR THE GARNISH
- ¼ cup toasted, salted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup fresh pomegranate arils
- Fried sage
- ROAST SQUASH: Preheat oven to 350. Peel squash, discarding seeds and membranes. Slice squash into similarly sized rings and/or small wedges. Toss in olive oil and salt. Lay out in single layer on a sheet pan. Bake at 350º for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
- FRY SAGE LEAVES:
- While the squash roasts, fry the sage leaves. Place ½ cup olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add sage leaves to hot oil and fry until leaves are crisp. Remove pan from heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove fried sage leaves from the pan and place on a paper towel to blot oil. Sprinkle leaves with salt. Cool the oil and reserve.
- PREPARE VINIAGRETTE:
- Place the cooled olive oil from frying the sage leaves in a blender. Add all remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Blend well. Taste to adjust seasoning; add salt if desired.
- ASSEMBLE: Arrange roasted squash on a large serving platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils and fried sage leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.