In a season where root vegetables and crockpot dinners reign supreme, a delicate yet filling winter salad provides a fresh respite to the braised, the roasted, and the baked. With the weather in DC looking colder and colder this month, we set out to create a salad with plenty of texture and flavor to pick up our moods as well as our meals.
We here at Righteous Cheese believe that a little bit of cheese makes everything better, and in accordance with this belief no salad is 100% complete without some queso. To a lovely salad of arugula and fennel, we added wintery elements of roasted acorn squash, fresh carrots, and toasted walnuts. We selected a nice, ripe pear from the local market’s bounty of apples and pears – fruits that seem to have no shortage of supply at this time of year. And finally, we picked out some cheese.
Fresh, bright goat cheese is often a go-to selection for salads. But rather than the bright, summer-y feel that comes with the addition of goat cheese, we’ve opted for a nutty, rich, and dense (but still apt for crumbling) winter-y feel of a sheep’s milk cheese: Caña de Oveja. From Spain, this rare soft sheep’s milk cheese is the mellow little brother of bigger, brighter, and tangier Bucheron. Generously distributed atop a mound of squash, pears, fennel, and walnuts, this winter salad was the perfect remedy for our wintertime, dinnertime blues.
Toasty winter salad with Caña de Oveja
serves 2-4 as an appetizer or side dish
- 1 small acorn squash, seeded and sliced
- 1 Tbsp. za’atar
- Arugula (or other suitable salad mix, we also used a butter lettuce mix in this version)
- 1 bulb fennel, finely sliced
- 2 small carrots, peeled into ribbons
- 1 comice pear (or other variety), sliced into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- 5 oz. Caña de oveja
- Slice squash into thin (1/8 inch) strips. Acorn squash does not need to be peeled – the skin is soft enough to become edible once cooked – but peel if you’re anal like we are. Toss with olive oil and za’atar spice, along with salt and pepper (check out our neighbors, Bazaar Spices, for a selection of zata’ar and other spices!). In a 375° F oven, roast for 30 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- Lower oven to 300° F, and toast walnuts on a shallow sheet pan for 5-10 minutes. Set these aside to cool as well.
- Thinly slice fennel and pear, preferably with the help of a mandoline. Using a vegetable peeler, strip carrot into long ribbons. Layer these three atop arugula along with squash and walnuts. Toss gently with your hands or a pair of tongs.
- Crumble the Caña de Oveja over the salad. Dress with your choice of dressing (a simple olive oil and squeeze of lemon fits the bill) and serve. Enjoy!!