The leaves on the poplar trees lining our pasture are beginning to turn yellow. I love to look out the window and watch the trees slowly sway in the breeze, leaves glinting golden in the afternoon sun. I look forward to their slow color change, relishing the views of desert hills peeking through falling leaves.
Driving around town, the scent of harvested hops fills the air and signals that fall has most certainly arrived in Yakima. We will be joining the masses downtown for the annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival on Saturday evening. If you don’t have tickets yet, there’s still a little bit of time, but don’t wait because it’s an event you don’t want to miss. Craft beers from all around our region (and many from right here in Yakima), great food and live music all right downtown make for a night you don’t want to miss.
But before I head out to sample beer and dance until my feet hurt, my plan is to make this epic Cobb salad. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients; it’s just a hearty salad filled with lots of good-for-you things. A few minutes of prep and you’ve got enough ingredients for a week of lunches or a hearty dinner salad. Roasted delicata squash, tart apples, creamy avocado and tangy pickled red onions come together for a salad that hits all the right notes.
• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.
Cobb Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash
For the salad
5 ounces baby spinach
Roasted delicata squash
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken breast (grab a rotisserie chicken from the store and peel the skin off)
1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (dried cranberries work well, too)
Pickled red onion (optional)
For the squash
2 delicata squash, washed and cut in half with seeds and pulp removed
Zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper.
Cut the squash into 1-inch pieces. In a large zip-close bag or bowl, toss the squash in olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan cheese and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange squash on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure to get all the bits of Parmesan cheese and lemon zest onto the tray. Roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, flipping the squash halfway through the cooking time. The squash is done when they turn golden brown and a fork easily pierces the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Quick Pickled Onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Apple cider vinegar
In an air-tight container, combine the red onion with the sugar and salt. Pour apple cider vinegar over the sliced onion until halfway covered. Fill the container the rest of the way with water. Put the lid on and let sit on the counter for at least 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Lemon Mustard Salad Dressing
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper
In a measuring cup or a small jar with a lid, combine ingredients. Mix well and taste to make sure it is to your preference. Add more salt or lemon juice as needed.
Put it all together
To assemble the salad, layer the squash, apple, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chicken and avocado over the baby spinach. Sprinkle salad with pomegranate seeds and a few tablespoons of pickled red onion. Garnish with kosher salt and pepper.
Drizzle dressing over the salad and, using two forks, toss and mix until ingredients are well-combined. Store any leftover ingredients in airtight containers in the refrigerator.