Chicken & Apple Sausage, Butternut Squash and Endive Salad
A BRUCE AIDELLS SIGNATURE RECIPEThis unusual winter salad makes an ideal first course for a special holiday meal or dinner party. It's also good as a luncheon salad or light dinner. It's delicious not only for its sweet and savory taste, but for the crunchy nuts, endive and apple with the tender squash and toothsome sausage.
For the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Brush 2 large rimmed baking sheets generously with olive oil. Peel the squash and cut where the necks join the bulbous body. Cut the necks into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Cut the bulbous bodies in half lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds. Cut the flesh crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick C-shaped slices. Arrange the squash slices in a single layer on the prepared sheets. Brush the squash with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Turn the squash slices over and brush generously with the sweetened balsamic vinegar. Roast 5 minutes and then brush again with the sweetened balsamic. Continue roasting until the squash begins to color and the tip of a sharp knife penetrates easily, about 10 minutes longer. Remove the pans from the oven and let the squash cool.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, cover and cook until lightly browned, turning frequently, 7-10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cut the sausage on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices.
To compose the salads, arrange 4 to 6 endive leaves pinwheel fashion on each of 8 salad plates. Using a small spatula, arrange several C-shaped and round squash slices over the endive, and then arrange sausage over all. Scatter apples, nuts, and chunks of cheese over the salads. Whisk the dressing to blend, then drizzle over the salads and serve.