It was only during the 15th century voyages of Christopher Columbus that Europeans became familiar with acorn squash, a vegetable native to the western hemisphere and eaten for thousands of years by native Americans. The hearty vines became popular garden vegetables with colonists in the New World when they realized their storage quality during the long, cold New England winters. This recipe combines three New England staples—squash, maple syrup, and apples—into a heart-healthy, cancer-fighting powerhouse of a salad with a meaty texture that will satisfy all those who made 2020 New Year’s resolutions to eat less meat and more vegetables.
To remove the skins from the hazelnuts place nuts into an oven safe dish and into a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Cool just enough to handle and place nuts in a FLOUR SACK or other lint free towel, wrap and roll the nuts around. Not all of the skin on the hazelnuts will peel off. No worries, just remove the papery bits that have a funny texture. Reducing the cider intensifies the flavor, but the dressing is delicious without this step. Use the remaining dressing to toss with roasted vegetables. The dressing will keep 3 days in the refrigerator. Using a tiny pot to reduce the cider makes it easy to monitor as the surface area to volume is more proportionate. To make the squash easy to cut in half, soften for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave.