Now that fall has officially started, I’m diving in deep to all of my favorite fall foods. I was able to put down my pumpkin butter long enough to enjoy the fall produce at our local farmers market and came home with my favorite squash: delicata! The delicata squash has a sweet, nutty taste very similar to butternut squash, but unlike its flavor doppelgänger, comes without the pain of needing to peel the squash. The salad is a staple in our house during the fall and winter weekday nights. Since we don’t eat as much red meat, our salad is typically topped with a seared piece of fish, sautéed shrimp, or brined chicken. But don’t let that stop you beef and pork eaters. This salad is versatile enough to stand up to the bold flavors of a roasted steak or pulled pork. Just top it with your favorite sauce (Chimichurri? Romesco? Herb vinaigrette?) and you could please anyone with this salad. For this recipe, I’ve included a great quick sage-brined chicken that pairs perfectly.
Sage-Brined Chicken Breast
Yields 4 portions
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups ice
- 4 tbsp. salt
- 2 large sprigs of sage
- 3 slices lemon
- 4-5 oz chicken breast or thighs
- 2 tbsp. neutral oil
- black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried sage
Place the 2 cups of ice in a large bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, bring to a boil the 2 cups of water, sage, lemon slices, and salt. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the ice cubes and set aside until ice melts completely. Once the ice is melted and the brine is cold, add the chicken. Place the bowl of brining chicken in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. After 2-3 hours, remove the chicken and place on paper towel to dry. Once dry, sprinkle the chicken with pepper and dried sage.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil on medium-low. Place the chicken in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for additional 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan when the internal temperature (remember to temp the thickest part of the chicken) reaches 158°F. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad
Yields 4 portions
- 1 extra large delicata squash (keep the seeds!)
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 8 oz french green beans (haricots vert)
- 5 cups greens (arugula, spinach, kale, or mixed greens)
- tiny pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 2 tbsp. neutral oil, plus ¼ tsp.
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the ends of the delicata squash off and then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds (clean and keep them for the salad!) and slice the delicata in ¼ inch moons. Toss the sliced delicata with 1 tbsp. oil, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. Place seasoned delicata on sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes. While delicata is roasting, season green beans with 1 tbsp. oil, salt, and pepper then roast for 10-15 minutes. With the seeds scooped out from the squash, toss with ¼ tsp. oil and salt and roast for 2 minutes. (Keep an eye on them because they brown fast!) Once all of the veggies are roasted, cool for 2-3 minutes, then toss with the toasted seeds, dried cranberries, salad greens, and your favorite salad dressing (we used my pecorino vinaigrette). Top with the sage-brined chicken and your favorite sauce or more salad vinaigrette!