Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples, Arugula and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

October 25, 2010


Appetizers, Dinner, Fall, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes

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I really miss local apples. I got spoiled as a kid—we grew up within walking distance of an apple farm, and in October came the McIntosh. First pulled from the low hanging branches of their little, scraggly trees; then dropped into baskets; then stuffed into pockets, into mouths. Some of them made it to the kitchen, where they imparted the house with the smell of autumn…tart, sweet and bright.


It’s still in the upper 80s here in Houston and this is hardest time for me in Texas. July is tough, too, but at least then I know what to expect. I’ve been here for four falls now, but even if I stayed here forever, I’d always ache a bit in October. I’m thinking of what it’s like where I’m from. Right now, the geese fly, the air turns smoky and the red leaves pinwheel onto crackling grass. It will get cooler here in a month or two, but that happens fast. The leaves fall all at once, and the cold rain comes. I look forward to rubber boots and woolen sweaters, but I wish I could light a fire today and feel electrified by the air.


So I pretend. Last night I baked some butternut squash and apples with cinnamon, closed my eyes and imagined the sound of a distant gaggle honk. But the gentle hum of the AC kicked in and ended my reverie. No matter. I can still get McIntosh apples and beautiful golden squash, though not at the farmer’s market. That said, the local arugula is mighty fine, and the Houston honey was just right to dress it. The best part about this meal was that I had enough light to photograph it before it hit the table… back home, it was already dark.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples, Arugula and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4

(Please excuse the commentary…)

2 apples, sliced about ½” thick–I like McIntosh

2 c butternut squash, sliced about ½“

1 t cinnamon

4 c arugula

2 T olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables

1 t mustard

2 t local honey

3 t apple cider vinegar

¼ c roasted nuts or pumpkin seeds

salt and pepper


Toss squash in a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet, leaving space between each slice. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

(You may have to bake squash in batches: I prefer my squash slightly crisp, and if you load too many pieces onto a baking sheet at once, they steam.)

Roast at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

(I don’t pre-heat the oven when I’m roasting vegetables.)

Flip squash and add apples to the oven, sprinkling with cinnamon.

Roast an additional 15 minutes, checking squash occasionally.

(It can be hard to cut squash, so if your slices aren’t all the same size, some will roast faster than others. Check on the squash regularly and remove any cooked slices.)

In the meantime, place mustard, honey and vinegar in a small bowl and blend.

Whisk in olive oil until emulsified.

Just before serving, toss arugula with dressing.

Arrange squash and apples over salad, sprinkle with nuts and serve.

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