I first heard of making a salad inside a hot, roasted pumpkin from the Argentine chef, Francis Mallman. My version of this unusual salad is streamlined for the home cook. Enjoy this wonderful comfort food on a cold day. Makes enough for a light meal, or use it as an impressive starter in a larger feast.
2 pumpkin (or acorn squash – or whatever is in season)
For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
bunch baby arugula
8 ounces Bucheron goat cheese (this is aged goat cheese – regular goat cheese is a fine substitute)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Cut pumpkins in half and remove seeds and strings. Brush cut ends liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast for 45 min-1 hour, or until a fork pierces the flesh with no resistance.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl. I used an immersion blender to emulsify and “puree” everything together. You can also add everything to a blender or food processor and get the same result.
5. Transfer roasted pumpkin to serving plates. While still steaming, fill the cavities with crumbles of goat cheese and then baby arugula. Add vinaigrette to taste and toss, being sure to scrape pumpkin flesh into salad as you toss. Eat immediately.
NOTE: I suggest letting guests assemble their own salad at table. This is a fun and interactive first course. Provide a shallow bowl to hold the pumpkin and 2 small spoons per person so that they can smash the ingredients together themselves.