And then we flipped to the end of Scharffen Berger’s Essence of Chocolate cookbook.
Toward the end of the cookbook, we found a recipe for Roast Squash with Cacao Nib Vinaigrette in an entire chapter about chocolate in foods other than decadent desserts. The Roast Squash dish alone could account for half of our new year’s resolutions. Butternut squash is not only a vegetable (“Eat more vegetables!”), but a power food, packed with fiber, vitamins, and most densely, carotenoids (“Eat more healthily!”). However, we were fascinated by the addition of cacao nibs to the vinaigrette that dresses the squash. Cacao nibs add interest with cocoa taste and crunchy texture, but the little things are full of all those antioxidants that made chocolate a “healthy food” in the first place.
The only thing that might throw us off is the crisped pancetta, but we also told ourselves we’d eat more protein.
Roasted Squash with Cacao Nib Vinaigrette
from the Essence of Chocolate cookbook
one 4-pound butternut squash, peeled, t half lengthwise and seeded
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons cacao nibs, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, finely minced
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Trim the ends of the squash and cut off the neck portions from the bulbs. Place the four pieces of squash cut-side down on a board and cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Toss with two tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Lay slices on prepared baking sheets and roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and soft. Rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking.
To Make the Vinaigrette:
Combine remaining ½ cup olive oil , vinegar, nib and shallot in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels. When cool, chop or crumble into small pieces.
Place squash in large bowl, add about half the vinaigrette, and toss gently to coat. Arrange the slices on individual plates or large platter. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with pancetta. Serve warm.