Prepared with ingredients provided by Evans Knob Farm for the Morgantown Farmers Market on the occasion of a beautiful autumn day. Please note that this dish was prepared the way my mother cooks. No recipe, no measuring. I used "seconds," veggies that couldn't be sold at the market because they were too small or blemished. I seasoned to taste with my ingredient, because after all a dish served at our table reflects something of ourselves. You are encouraged to add your own flare to this recipe, using the ingredients that are available to you.
This dish was inspired by the fall harvest at Evans Knob Farm in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, which grows certified naturally grown produce. Notably, there is a fifty year old apple tree that stands next to the old family home. On my second day on the farm, I was wandering around and found this towering tree. It grows these greenish yellow, gray speckled apples. They are not the kind of apple you find at the market. Rather, these apples look like they come from a forgotten tree in the woods. My first bite was a fantastic surprise. The best apple I've had all year, if ever. I like bright, crisp, sweet apples. The next day, with Kathy's permission, I picked five bushels from the tree. We then made apple sauce, apple pie, and this topper for a delicious vegetarian entree or side dish. I hope you too find an apple that becomes the star of your autumn salad. And if it's October, may you find an apple that has been kissed by the season's first frosts. It will be sweeter than ever. Your "autumn salad" should look like the colors of autumn leaves changing. It will be a crunchy and sweet-savory way to celebrate both the squash and the late harvest apple. Enjoy.
1 large butternut squash
1 honeynut squash (optional)
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground pepper (optional)
Autumn salad ingredients:
2 medium tomatoes
2 medium peppers (choose one green bell pepper and another color such as banana pepper or chocolate pepper)
1 small jalapeño
1/2 a small red onion
2 granny smith apples
2 Tb flat leaf parsley
1-2 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 Tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Set oven to 375 degrees. Peel and cube the squash into bite sized pieces. Toss together with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread loosely in cast iron pan or baking tray. Bake about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, give the squash a turn. Avoid over mixing. Roast another 10 minutes and remove from oven. Should be soft but not mushy with some golden carmelizing.
Make salad, putting all ingredients in a medium bowl. Dice the tomatoes and bell and chocolate (or red peppers. Remove the seeds and pity from the jalapeño. Mince the jalapeño and red onion. Measure the ingredients for the dressing (adding more cider vinegar as desired) and put directly on the salad. Stir gently a few times.
When ready to serve: Peel and dice the apples. Course chop the parsley. Add both to the salad. Stir gently a couple times.
Spoon squash onto a platter. Spoon the desired amount of salad onto the center of the squash. Or, perhaps better served individually onto each plate and served right away. Squash can be hot or room temperature. Salad should be room temperature.