Let’s be clear: Fall and winter are fine times to have a salad. Even though not everyone has the pleasure of living year-round on the Amalfi Coast (a region on Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula that’s known for its stunning seaside views and temperate weather), you can still grab grade-A seasonal vegetables, like squash, apples, beets, and celery root, to make a refreshing late-year salad. Although this recipe calls for delicata squash, any peeled tender, sweeter squash, like kabocha, acorn, or Blue Hubbard, will work, too. You just need to make sure that whatever squash you use is seeded and sliced paper-thin. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can scoop out the squash seeds, toast them, and substitute them for the pumpkin seeds.
- In a medium bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, shallot, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice and gently blend with a fork. Once finished, transfer in an airtight, nonreactive container. The vinaigrette will keep, in a cool, dark place, for up to 1 month.
- In a large ziplock bag, combine the squash, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of the vinaigrette, and the pepper and season with salt. Let marinate for at least 11⁄2 hours or up to 6 hours; this will tenderize and season the fall vegetable.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a plate with a double thickness of paper towel.
- In a small ovenproof sauté pan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the sage, toss, and then season with salt. Place the pan in the oven and toast until the sage is crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. Carefully remove the sage and transfer to the prepared plate to drain. In the same pan, over low heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss. Place the pan in the oven and toast until crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to pumpkin seeds to the plate with the sage, and let sit until both come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, core and cut the apples into paper-thin slices (about 1⁄8 inch), and rub them lightly with the lemon wedge to prevent oxidation. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup vinaigrette, the squash, and apples. Use your hands to toss the mixture, and then to fold in the watercress.
- Smear individual plates with the chèvre, top each with the apple-squash salad, and garnish with the sage, pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of pumpkin-seed oil, and a grating of nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from House of Vinegar by Jonathon Sawyer, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit Peter Larson © 2018