sprouted kitchen

About a month ago now, I was invited to Wisconsin to get a better look into their thriving cheese community. I was aware prior to my visit that Wisconsin is big into cheese, but I had no idea how much people live for it over there. I had seen those cheese-head hats, which yes, they do sell at the airport, but that is no joke. These people are serious about cheese. A small group of us were able to tour the grounds of some great cheese makers, both small and large scale, and I was so impressed by how passionate these people are about their craft. What a pleasure it was to learn from people who know their subject so well. I am not a cheese afficiando, I have my favorites but I eat it pretty sparingly. That said, I hadn't seen the process run its course from the start of seperating the curds and whey, adding the cultures, shaping, caring, and the details of aging the cheese. What an art. I am so attracted to people who love what they do, and do it exceptionally. Not to mention that the landscape was gorgeous and it was refreshingly chilly while we were having a 90° October at home.

I've been brainstorming what to bring for my Thanksgiving side dish and fiddled around with a cheese I had tried at Uplands Cheese. It's similar to a gruyere - creamy, nutty and bold. If you're looking for something with vibrant color and a bit of richness, squash and greens with a hint of cheese is my favorite combination. This salad is still a favorite. Not that it will only do for the holiday, but I figure that's the topic of the week, so I wanted to participate. Happy meal planning. I've got my stretchy pants ready. 



The dressing included is from the House Salad in my cookbook. It's pretty mild and the perfect amount of creamy. I also think Aida's tahini dressing would be interesting here if you aren't planning on using the cheese. Or hey, maybe if you are. If you need a quicker fix, a 2:1 ratio of a great quality extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic and pinch of salt + pepper will do. In any case, go easy on the dressing or the salad portion of the dish gets too heavy. 

sprouted kitchen

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup halved, red grapes
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • a hearty handful shaved, Gruyere-type cheese (I used Pleasant Ridge Reserve)
  • // dressing //
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. crème fraiche
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey 
  • 1 scallion, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400'.

Cut the acorn squash into quarters, scoop out seeds and prick the flesh a few times with a fork. Drizzle the squash with the oil and vinegar and rub it around to coat, being sure the flesh is coated. Lay them cut side up on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes or until the outer edges are crisp and you can easily pierce through the flesh. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mini blender or food processor, blend all dressing ingredients until smooth and combined. The dressing can be prepared up to three days in advance. Combine all the salad ingredients, besides the cheese, in a large bowl and toss with a few Tbsp. of the dressing (or desired amount). Arrange the squash on a plate and stuff the centers with the green salad. Top with desired amount of the shaved cheese and fresh ground pepper to finish. 

I was invited to Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

sprouted kitchen

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Reader Comments (40)

yum! I have a lonely acorn squash sitting on my counter, and now I know what I'm going to do with it :)

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanine

That looks delicious! I am really glad you enjoyed your visit to WI. I love living here and the cheese is delicious.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

this look so so amazing.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermary @ B&Gjournals

gorgeous dish!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlittle kitchie

I bought an acorn squash last weekend and didn't really know what to do with it so this is perfect. Will be making this this weekend. Also, I bought your cookbook and love it!!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGPS

I can't say that I've ever had a desire to travel to Wisconsin, but now I am eager to go just for the cheese! I so wish my parents weren't kosher so we could serve this at Thanksgiving... oh well, I'll have to try it on my own.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian @ A Thought For Food

I was born & raised in Wisconsin so I am thrilled you got to experience how great my home-state, and our cheese, can be :)
And that salad is looking pretty fantastic, not going to wait for Thanksgiving to try it out!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaggie

You did it! It's perfect and I want this salad.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Gorgeous salad. I'm really intrigued by the addition of the balsamic vinegar to the squash before roasting - I totally have to try that.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCouscous & Consciousness

Oh my gosh, yum! Spotted your book at Powell's in Portland yesterday and got really excited :)

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan Lane

I live in Madison, and I love Pleasant Ridge Reserve! I grew up in Theresa, which houses Widmer's cheese. I think they're on the 4th or 5th generation of small town cheesemakers. Fantastic stuff. Also, your salad looks lovely. :)

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

What a great idea! No fuss with the squash and just a lot of lovely ingredients to fill it with. Now. Where did I put that cheese hat of mine ...

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA Plum By Any Other Name

This is so perfect for fall. I want this noooow!

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

looks amazing ;)

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatarina

Ohhh this post reminded me that this week I made tempeh "meat"balls and roasted squash with balsamic and hazelnuts from your beautiful cookbook this week! I was making dinner for a very pregnant friend of mine who's tummy is not tolerating lactose or meat very well at this point. She loved dinner, and so did I (a lifelong meat and dairy- lover!). thank you for your wonderful recipes and inspiration, Sara!

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

Looks yum, am thinking of serving it on T-Day. Thank you for your post! Martha

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha Perry

Looks yummy and fun. And I love the story about the whole cheese thing in Wisconsin. Hard to believe at this point, but some 15 years ago I was living in Chicago with a 4 year-old and my husband. We were in search of a small town lifestyle for our son's raising. Headed to Wisconsin and wanted to make it our home. But there were those funny cheese hats...never made it...but our son is thriving and I love the cheese and even the memory of those hats...
Thanks for bringing back great memories.
Dena, from New Hampshire.

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDena

What fabulous pictures. Love the combinations of all these flavors as well. This sounds like a perfect Fall salad. Looking forward to giving it a try.

My husband is from WI, so I know about the cheese thing. My first few extended stays with his family resulted in coming home with 5 extra pounds gained. It's slightly terrifying, but delicious! Now I say no to cheese curds. :)

This salad is beautiful - such gorgeous colors. I love squash, but haven't paired them with greens. I must add it to the menu plan.

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

Wow. I absolutely love acorn squash. This sounds delightful. Gorgeous cilantro photo!

This salad has a lot of my favourite things in and the light in the pictures is just gorgeous. Can't wait to make this.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn / London Bakes

looks AMAZING! This might make it on my table just in time for Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrista

i am crushing hard on squash of all sorts right now, particularly salads. thank you for feeding my obsession.

a most happy thanksgiving to you and hugh, sara.


November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Sara - I can tell from the photos alone how delicious that balsamic vinegar you're using is. Must. Find. Better. Balsamic.

Beautiful post!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

this salad looks divine. i love using coconut oil and grapes, very unexpected. thanks for sharing!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertina@theunprocess

It looks like a great recipe. Can you eat the peel on the squash or will it be too tough?

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Gorgeous! Can't wait to make this. I'm crazy about winter squash. It totally makes up for the lack of produce in the coming months!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIris

@Christina - you don't want to eat the skin here, too tough. It makes you eat slow because you have to scoop a bit of squash with each bite :)

November 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Thanks - I'm always looking for ways to use winter squash.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArtisanal Olive Oil

I made this for supper tonight.. so yummy!! I love your blog and cookbook so very much. The world is a much yummier place with you in it! Thanks AGAIN :)

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Yum. Well, I am invited to some friends Thanksgiving party tomorrow (I am not American) and we´re bringing the Pecan pie but anyway, even If I don´t make it home with a leftovers tupperware I probably will prepare this the day after TG just to pretend so ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterheidi leon

Those photos are beautiful and the final dish looks so cozy and delicious.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaclyn

This is the kind of eating I want to do at Thanksgiving. Can't we just have a huge buffet of glorious harvest vegetables? :)

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

awesome pics and recipe

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom@morethanpepper

Wow! Hearty and elegant - I would not have thought to serve unpeeled squash, but I see here it's a great opportunity to slow down and appreciate the food. Thank you!

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKendall @ Dharma Feast


SHAME ON YOU for having such a wonderful site with such beautiful food. I am sitting at work (hungry of course) drooling over seriously everything. I am newly vegetarian, and have never seen so many meat-free dishes that look THAT GOOD. Dinner tonight might be lentil and mushroom tacos. Just sayin'.

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I hadn't thought of using quinoa in a salad like this.. !! So yum!

November 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaimie

My goodness, this salad is Autumn personified. (Can a salad personify? Anyway...)

I love nutty gruyere cheese, and that creamy dressing is swoon-inducing. I can't wait to make this gorgeous dish!

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara @ The Cozy Herbivore

This was delicious. I normally don't like arugula, but took a chance with your recipe and it was fantastic. I substituted an apple for the grapes. Will definitely make again. Thank you!

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

What a great reference this round-up is, So many wonderful looking healthy dishes, you make healthy eating look so easy, i can’t wait to cook my way through the whole list! love your new feature Thanks .

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterReaIIndianfood

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