Arugula and Roasted Delicata Croutons Salad

Color, flavor, and texture were my multidimensional guideline for developing this recipe.  My starting point was delicata, a winter squash that actually grows in the summer. What I love about delicata is the fact that there is no need to peel it, since the peel softens during the cooking process. I usually roast the delicata and serve it as a side dish with dinner, but this time I decided to use it in a salad. 

The delicata is sweet, soft and somewhat starchy and I thought that the bitterness of the arugula leaves might compliment it and its green color is a nice contrast to the orange color of the delicata.  In my first attempt to make this salad I used roasted red pepper and pine nuts. I was hoping that the vinegar in the roasted pepper will bring some sourness to the salad, but it was pale in comparison to the flavor of the balsamic vinegar and also its slimy texture in combination with the softness of the roasted delicata made the salad feel too mushy. Using fresh red bell pepper instead, turned out to be a better choice, it added crispiness and a bright red color to the salad, while its natural cool fresh sweetness complimented the warm starchy sweetness of the delicata. The crunchiness of the pine nuts, because of their small size, was lost in the volume of the vegetable mixture. The sliced almonds, on the other hand, had a more crunchy presence in the salad than the pine nuts. I chose simple flavoring for the salad; olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper, since I only wanted to accentuate the flavors of the vegetables and not to take the attention away from them.  The result is for you to judge. 

I was not satisfied with the result of the first version

Roasted Delicata croutons 

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Yields: 2 cups (1/2 cup per serving)

2 Delicatas
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp garlic granule
salt and pepper

Remove edges of the delicata. Slice it in the middle, 

Scoop the seeds out with a spoon.

 Slice ½”  thick cubes.

Mix with oil and spices in the pan.

Broil in the oven for 20 minutes.

Salad Ingredients – 1 serving

1 cup arugula
½ cup roasted delicata croutons
1/3 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper
¼ cup sliced almonds (raw or roasted)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

In a bowl – mix arugula, red bell pepper, and almonds with oil, vinegar and spices. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle the delicata croutons on top.