Sunday we were treated to the perfect excuse to stay inside and eat all day - a massive rainstorm. Luckily, we had been planning for guests and I spent the morning cooking. P. entertained Roman and I had a few hours of kitchen "therapy," chopping, simmering, roasting, stirring. By the time our guests arrived, I was overwhelmed with excitement. It had been a while since I had put together a meal of this calibre and instead of tiring me out, it gave me a real boost of positive energy.
I've always been one to try out new dishes when we entertain, (something I inherited from my mother) and this time I was going for Osso Bucco, which smells amazing, by the way. I served it over very rich mashed potatoes, made with butter, milk and mascarpone. Normally I would have a problem with cooking with that much fat, but I like the decadence on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe fat can have the effect that sunshine does.
We did the shopping on Saturday but as usual since Roman was with us, I was distracted and forgot to buy a side vegetable. As I lay awake worrying about this during the wee hours between Saturday and Sunday morning, this delicious fall salad came to me, and luckily I found one lonely store open on Sunday morning to pick up the missing ingredients. I knew there was a reason I was losing sleep. The salad turned out delicious!
Here's what I used:
Lamb's lettuce, also called Mâche
Delicata squash (any fall squash would do)
Cut the squash into a dice and toss with maple syrup and olive oil - roast in the oven and cool.
In a frying pan, toast the pine nuts until golden. Remove from the pan and add the pancetta, fry until crispy and drain on paper towels. Assemble the salad starting with the mâche, squash, sliced pear, pine nuts and pancetta and a slice of soft goat cheese. Drizzle the salad with a balsamic cream, chestnut honey, both of which have intense richness, so drizzle lightly...and a bit of olive oil. Top with freshly ground pepper.
Note: If you want this to be vegetarian, substitute pomegranate for the pancetta, which will also add beautiful color.