Low-carb,  Salads,  Starters and appetizers

For the love of butternut squash!

Fall is here, there’s no way around it. As the temperatures begin to drop and days in the sun become fewer why not celebrate all the colorful and magnificent seasonal vegetables and greens that start to appear in the grocery stores and farmers’ markets? With their funny and quirky shapes, pumpkins and winter squash have always had a strange appeal both to my eye and my stomach. In some way they seem to offer a needed comfort that though winter will be here soon, everything will be all right, and there will be loads of good food to be made and not least to be shared with family and friends.

This easy grilled butternut squash and Burrata salad combines the sweetness of butternut squash with the rich, creamy softness of burrata and the saltiness of prosciutto. Serve it as a main with some nice ciabatta or baguette or as a starter either along with other starters or simply on its own. And hey, maybe you even get to enjoy it outside on one of the last warm evenings of the year!

Grilled butternut squash salad with Burrata

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main or 4-6 as a starter)

8 ounces (250 g) burrata (or very very good quality fresh mozzarella)

1/2 a butternut squash

Large handful of rocket salad (about 1.5 ounces or 50 g) washed and dried well

2.5 ounces (75 g) prosciutto or Parma ham

Optional: 1 small red onion sliced as thinly as possible

1/2 bunch of Italian (flat-leaved) parsley

4-5 tbsp canola (rapeseed) oil

Good quality olive oil or lemon infused olive oil

Salt and pepper

Rustic bread to serve (1-2 slices per person)

Directions

If you own a barbecue, whether it runs on gas or coal, you owe it to yourself to use it for grilling the butternut squash. However, if you are not yet the lucky owner of such a contraption, a grilling skillet will also do, or alternatively you can broil/grill the butternut squash in the oven. If you use your oven for the butternut squash, I suggest you use it first to prepare the prosciutto and afterwards do the squash.

1. If you use your barbecue for the squash, the first thing you want to do is get it started. Then also heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 200 degrees celsius).

2. While the oven heats, prepare the butternut squash. Cut half of the butternut squash into wedges,  approximately half an inch (1 cm) thick. Make sure to remove seeds and skin. Brush the wedges with canola oil and season them with salt and pepper and leave them till you’ve prepared the prosciutto.

3. Lay out the slices of prosciutto on baking paper on a baking tray and put it in the oven. Bake it until it becomes crispy, about 10-15 min. Let the crispy prosciutto cool for a few minutes, and then break it up into smaller pieces to be used as a topping for the salad.

4. Now it’s time to grill the butternut squash wedges. Whether you use your barbecue, a skillet or your oven, the grilling time is about 5-7 minutes on each side. You have to watch the wedges, though, to make sure that they don’t overcook nor are too raw. You want them to obtain a slight crisp and brown color on the outside, but they should retain their firmness inside. You don’t want them to become all mushy. Once they are done, leave them on a plate to cool just a bit.

5. While you assemble the salad use your barbecue, skillet or oven to quickly toast the bread slices. Brush the bread slices with a bit of canola or olive oil and toast them for a few minutes on each side.

6. As the bread slices are toasting, toss the rocket leaves on a large serving platter, then place the ball of burrata in the middle, the grilled butternut squash wedges around the burrata and then sprinkle the prosciutto bits as well as coarsely chopped parsley over the salad. If you like the salad to have a little more bite, you may add paper-thin slices of red onion.

7. Give the salad a finishing touch with 3-4 churns of freshly ground black pepper, perhaps a pinch of sea salt, and generously drizzle a good olive oil over the salad. Serve the toasted bread on the side, and if you feel like celebrating, treat yourself to a nice cool glass of rosé wine to accompany this delicious meal.

Enjoy!

If you feel like experimenting further with this salad, or decide to use the other half of the butternut squash the next day, try substituting the burrata with either blue cheese or baked goat cheese!

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