So I was perusing the catering menu on Ottolenghi’s website (you’d be surprised how much time I spend doing this sort of thing. What’s the end game? I don’t even know.) and saw this dreamy little concoction under vegetables. Hardy winter squashes have started to pop up here and there. My usual preparation method of choice for butternut squash is roasting, while for corn I typically steam or grill. Despite having never tried corn in the oven, I gave it a go in the name of simplicity.
And I’m so glad I did! It softens up just fine and the husks/silks come off so easily after. While I was at it, I threw a hot cherry pepper in for a zippy dressing contribution. The crunchy little pumpkin seeds and fresh basil make it feel complete. Side note: There is so much basil in the garden, it’s beyond comprehension and reason. I was completely thrilled to find a new application for it that really worked rather than just shoving it into everything to use it up. Salad? Whole leaves of basil in there. Smoothie? Needs basil I guess. Sandwich? Throw basil on it. Grains of any type? Chop it up and put it in already! Are there any extraordinary health benefits unique to this herb? I’m getting them for sure.
This is a great dish to make at the end of summer for little gatherings or maybe as a light lunch with some eggs or crunchy, grainy bread. It has that sweet-spicy-salty thing going on. The squash and toasty seeds are a little fall preview, but the summery corn is still sweet and juicy.
roasted butternut and corn salad with pepitas and feta
notes: The cherry hot pepper that I picked was SO hot! I only used about half of it in the dressing, but yours may vary in degree of heat. If you’re making this ahead of time, toss the vegetables with the dressing and add the feta, pumpkin seeds and basil right before serving. Also, there will be more than enough dressing. Just use the rest on a green salad, some grains or whatever you like.
1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/4 cup grape seed oil, divided
1 small chili/hot pepper (I used cherry hot)
3 ears of corn, excess husk/silk trimmed off
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 small or 1/2 regular clove of garlic
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
splash of water
heaped 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (I just slid them into the oven for about 10 minutes)
scant 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-2 sprigs basil, leaves finely chopped
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Toss the pieces of squash with 1 tbsp of the oil, salt and pepper. Spread out onto a baking sheet. Place the whole chili on the tray as well. Roast until the edges start to brown a bit and the squash is soft, about 30 minutes. The chili should be crinkly and slightly brown. Remove the seeds and stem from the chili and set aside.
While the squash is roasting, place the cobs of corn directly onto the oven racks. Let them roast and steam in there for about 20 minutes. Peel back husks/silks as soon as you can handle them to prevent further cooking. Cut kernels off the cobs. set aside.
Make the dressing: combine the apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, roasted chili, dijon mustard, remaining oil, splash of water, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend mixture until creamy and unified. If you don’t have a blender, just finely mince the chili and garlic, combine everything except the oil. Then slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Toss the squash and corn with half of the dressing, half of the basil and half of the cheese. Taste to see if you would like more dressing. Place the mixture onto your serving plate. Garnish the top with the pumpkin seeds, remaining basil and feta.