A classic salad gets a seasonal autumn twist with the addition of figs and squash, seasoned with cozy warm spices and roasted to perfection. It’s all topped with maple-roasted seeds, a tangy pomegranate molasses dressing, and fresh basil, creating a salad that remains light and refreshing!
In the fall of 2022, I came back from Italy with a delightful ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella, known for its rich and chewy flavor. Instead of using cow’s milk, they use buffalo milk, resulting in a dense and creamy cheese. It’s best enjoyed raw, so I wanted to create a dish to complement it perfectly. Instead of the traditional caprese with tomatoes, I opted for delicate squash, a more seasonal choice. This squash is my favorite due to its ease of preparation and its perfect size for pairing with mozzarella. I roasted the squash with my favorite spice blend, baharat.
Baharat seasoning is a warm spice blend that varies by region. It typically includes black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, coriander, and paprika. These spices complement the sweet, delicate flavor of squash and are delicious when roasted.
To elevate the dish further, I added some figs for both texture and fruity flavor. I also roasted the leftover delicate squash seeds because why not? To maintain the dish’s freshness, I included basil, a perfect match for mozzarella. Instead of the traditional balsamic vinegar, I opted for a 2:1 ratio of extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses for a tart and fruity alternative. The result is a delightful blend of cozy, seasonal fall flavors paired with fresh mozzarella, creating a light and fresh autumn salad.
Ingredients for Autumn Caprese:
- Fresh mozzarella cheese: Ensure you use the highest quality mozzarella, ideally the type found in a tub or package with the whey liquid.
- Delicata squash: My personal favorite, but you can use any squash you prefer.
- Baharat Spice Mix: A warm and cozy spice blend; if unavailable, cumin or paprika will work well, or simply roast the squash with salt.
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: I went the extra mile by using the delicata seeds, but store-bought pumpkin seeds, when roasted for more flavor, offer a great alternative.
- Fresh Figs: This is optional, but it adds sweetness to the salad, as tomatoes traditionally do.
- Basil: A must-have for any caprese.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Use the highest quality available.
- Pomegranate Molasses: If you can’t find it or prefer an alternative, balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar works perfectly.
- Sea salt: Sprinkle generously to enhance all the flavors.