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Gigi Barbina Salad

This image courtesy of Leonardo Frusteri

The Barbina is the most popular salad at Gigi Trattoria. Almost every ingredient is purchased locally, including baby greens from Sky Farm and Coach Farm goat cheese. We follow the seasons for the choice of ingredients (see the variations opposite). The vegetables are always roasted to heighten their natural sweetness and concentrate their flavors. (All the prep work can be done in advance; toss the salad with the vinaigrette just before serving.) Our generous portions encourage guests to enjoy this salad as a main dish or to split one as an appetizer. The dressing recipe has evolved over the years into this divine blend. Make sure the olive oil you select is on the lighter, more delicate side, so that it does not overwhelm the sherry and shallot flavors.

NotesLeftovers

Dress only as much salad as you need and enjoy the rest the next day.

Nutrition

The naturally vibrant colors tell you all you need to know: an antioxidant powerhouse.

Makes4 Servings

Cooking Methodroasting

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course, side dish

Dietary Considerationgluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Moodfestive

Taste and Texturecrisp, light, nutty, savory

Type of Dishdressing, first course salad, main course salad, salad

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crushed walnuts
  • 4 medium beets (2 to 3 inches in diameter), preferably a mix of red and gold, stems trimmed to 1 inch
  • 10 ounces mixed seasonal mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups diced peeled butternut squash
  • 12 cups mesclun (16 ounces) (mixed baby greens)
  • 1/3 to ½ cup Gigi Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, at room temperature
  • ½ cup good-quality sherry vinegar
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup olive/canola oil blend (combine ½ cup of each if you cannot find the blend)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. In a small, heavy, dry skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until fragrant and slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil (red and gold separately) and roast them in the middle of the oven until fork-tender, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. Let the beets rest in the foil for 15 minutes. Then carefully open the foil, letting any residual steam escape, and transfer the beets to a cutting board. With a small sharp knife, cut off the stems and peel the beets. Cut the beets into “rustic” bite-size pieces. Reserve yellow and red beet pieces separately.

  4. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.

  5. Using a moist kitchen or paper towel, wipe the mushrooms clean; remove any tough portion of the stems. Halve or quarter any large mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a single layer in a small baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the juices are nearly evaporated and the edges of the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the mushrooms with a spatula. Continue roasting until the mushrooms are uniformly browned and all the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.

  6. While the mushrooms are roasting, place the butternut squash in a baking pan that is just large enough to hold it in one layer. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, and toss to combine. Roast until the squash can be pierced easily and is lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  7. For the Gigi Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette:

  8. Combine the vinegar, shallots, and Dijon mustard in a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the oil through the feed tube. Continue mixing until all the oil is incorporated and the dressing is slightly emulsified. Pulse in the mayonnaise. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

  9. Divide the beets, butternut squash, and mushrooms among four salad plates. In a large mixing bowl, combine the greens with the vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Place a neat mound of the salad in the center of the vegetables. Scatter the goat cheese over the salads, and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

  10. Variations

  11. • Fall/Winter: Add pomegranate seeds and/or substitute roasted sweet potatoes for the butternut squash.

  12. • Spring: Substitute roasted snap or snow peas or asparagus for the butternut squash.

  13. • Summer: Enjoy roasted green or wax beans in place of the butternut squash.

  14. • Use your favorite grated or crumbled cheese instead of the goat cheese.

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