Recipe courtesy Maria Helm Sinskey, culinary director, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Napa, CA
Sinskey makes this salad often in the fall and early winter for winery guests.
- 4 cups pumpkin, cut into 1½-inch slices or chunks (seeds reserved, pulp discarded)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 ounces sliced pancetta (about 6 slices)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups mixed chicories (used any combination of escarole, radicchio, Belgian endive, curly endive, frisée)
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the pumpkin in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Place the pancetta flat on a baking sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove it from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, lightly coat the reserved pumpkin seeds with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Toast in the oven until lightly browned, then toss with salt to taste. Reserve.
To make the vinaigrette, shake together the shallot, salt, sugar and vinegar in a mason jar. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the salt and sugar to dissolve, then add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and shake again.
Place the chicories in a large bowl and toss with half of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the pumpkin on a large serving plate, and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Top with the chicories, crumble the pancetta over the top and sprinkle with the blue cheese and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately alongside the remaining vinaigrette. Serves 4.
“A nice crisp, aromatic white, such as Abraxas from Robert Sinskey Vineyards, is great with this salad,” says Sinskey, “though a Loire Chenin Blanc or dry German Riesling also complements these ingredients well.”