Autumn Pasta Salad with Maple Dressing

It has been a busy few weeks. Apparently in the midst of the busyness, September showed up. Is it just me, or does it seem like this month came out of nowhere? Last I knew, I was brainstorming a thousand different summer recipes, and the hubs and I were researching the grill we were finally going to buy.

Yesterday, we realized that we may as well forgo the grill purchase (again) this season and use the money to buy a snowblower instead. Oy. I'm not ready for that. I'm still clinging to the last bits of summer - farmers' markets, grilling (or using the stove-top grill pan in our case), eating s'mores around the fire pit and enjoying good 'ol picnic food.

This pasta salad is sort of a bridge between the seasons. To me, pasta salads are a summer staple, but this one boasts of fall flavors like maple syrup and butternut squash. Enjoy it warm on the cold days or cold on those last few lingering warm days. It's the best of both seasons.

Are you clinging to summer? Or are you ready to bring on fall?

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Autumn Pasta Salad with Maple Dressing
Yields 8-10 servings

Pasta Salad
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ to 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound bow tie pasta
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
3-4 ounces fresh arugula (a couple handfuls – just eyeball it)
Maple Dressing (see recipe below)
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay butternut squash out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is tender.

While the squash is roasting, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

When the squash is done roasting, add it to a large bowl, along with the cooked pasta, cranberries and walnuts. Mix well. Add in the Maple Dressing and fold in the arugula. The warm squash and pasta noodles should cause the arugula to wilt slightly.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Maple Dressing
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over pasta salad as directed above.

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