The Not Summer Salad

Guys, it's really not summer anymore. It's just not. You know, I wasn't totally sure about the seasons slowly and inevitably moving forward but the other day when I was scraping/shoveling/digging my car out of icy snow for two and half hours, I came to terms with the situation. It's winter. I'm sure of it. And while cute, refreshing dishes like

watermelon salad

 cut it back in those scorching summer months, we're just not at that place in our lives anymore.

We're at a place of squash. Stored away for times like this, when hearty dishes are all you crave. So I'm calling this salad hearty, not because it's fatty and has tons of meat but because it's mostly cous cous dotted with some tasty veggies and other treats and I think that counts for something.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

1 Medium Butternut or Hubbard Squash (or 2 cubes cubed)

1 Small Onion, chopped

5 Tbl Olive Oil

2 Cups Israeli/Pearl Cous Cous

2 1/2 Cups Water

2 Handfuls of Arugula

1/4 cup Chopped Unsalted Roasted Hazelnuts

1/2 Cup Shaved Parmesan 

Kosher Salt

Dressing

1 Tbl + 1 tsp Olive Oil

1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar (plus extra to drizzle on top)

1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice

1 1/2 tsp honey

Kosher Salt + Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Pinch of Chili Flakes (optional)

-Preheat oven to 400 F-

1. First, peel and cut the squash into small cubes. In a bowl, toss the pieces with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a very generous sprinkle of kosher salt.

2. Spread out spaciously on one or two baking sheets, and place in the oven for 15-25 minutes. Toss them around half way through and rotate the pan. Remove when cooked through and golden brown on the outside, and turn the oven off because that's all we needed it for.

3. Let the squash cool. Meanwhile, Bring the water (2 1/2 cups) to a boil in medium sized pot with a teaspoon of salt, when it has come to a boil add the cous cous (2 cups).  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed (or cook according to the package, I trust that). Be careful not to overcook or the cous cous will become one big glob. If it is done before the water is gone simply drain the cous cous.

4. Toss the cous cous in a large bowl with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let it cool in the fridge.

5. In a small sauté pan, combine the onion and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, then turn the pan to medium low heat and cook the onions until golden in color. This may take about 10 minutes, so just keep an eye on them and stir frequently.

6. While the onions are cooking, chop the hazelnuts in large pieces and set aside. 

7. Make the dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking together or shaking in a jar. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

8. Finish off by tossing the onions and the squash in with the cous cous. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Next, add the arugula (save a little to garnish on top), parmesan, and hazelnuts and mix it all together. Top with a few arugula leaves, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a bit of parmesan cheese.