October 14, 2016

The first time I had this salad Brian and I were at one of our favorite restaurants in New Haven, Cask Republic. We’ve been several times; on dates, with friends, for celebrations, etc., but this time it was just us, for Brian’s birthday. We love a place with great beer + small plates and Cask never disappoints. He ordered a beer, I went with a glass of red, and we shared a slew of small plates including this seasonal salad.

Brian was on cloud nine because I had just given him his gift before we left. Trying to be sneaky, I asked him if he could get my bag out of the back seat of my car. He hates when I do that, but little did he know his prezzie was there waiting for him. I watched from the bedroom window as he stood there confused. He came inside empty handed and said, “why is your Dad’s bike in your car?”

“That is your gift, you kook!” I could hardly get it in there never mind get it out, so the back seat is where it stayed hiding from Brian until we were ready to go. I picked it up from a bike shop in town the morning of his birthday after a night shift. I remember being so deliriously tired trying to decide which water bottle matched the best.

Even though it was the dead of winter and there was black ice everywhere, Brian hopped on without hesitation and took it for a spin in our driveway. I was freezing but I couldn’t miss his first ride and the huge smile on his face. Anyone that knows me knows I love presents and enjoy giving them as much as I do receiving them. Ok, maybe not AS MUCH, but I do take prezzies very seriously and if you are one of the lucky ones to receive a prezzie from me you know that there was much thought behind it.

At the time we were living in Branford, a quant little town on the CT shore line, our apartment a block away from Main Street where most of our go-to restaurants and the best coffee shop were. Brian had been talking about riding our bikes to get coffee, lunch, and whatnot since we moved in except there was one small problem, neither of us had a bike. I was so proud to give Brian his new bike that day, mostly because I now had a personal delivery service. Haha, just kidding!


Sweet + Spicy Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

2 small fennel bulbs, tops and core removed, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
3 endives, halved and chopped into 1/4 inch slices
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, plus more for topping

Cider-Mustard Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Dijon
1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss butternut squash with oil, maple syrup, and spices and bake in the oven until just tender, about 35 minutes. While the squash is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette and chop the fennel and endive. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until combined. Chop the fennel and endive and add to a large bowl. When the squash is just tender, add to bowl with endive and fennel and lightly toss with pumpkin seeds and dressing to combine, careful not to break the squash pieces. Top with additional pumpkin seeds as desired.

Serves 4-6

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