One of the things I like about living in Canada is the distinct four seasons. And as season changes, so are the food on the table. Gone are the plump tomatoes and sweet Ontario peaches but instead we have plenty of root vegetables and squash to feast on.
My herb garden is also saying goodbye (at least for the winter season) so I harvested what's left on the branches before they turned black because of frost. During spring and summer, I pinch the basil flowers as soon as I see them to allow more leaves to grow. But come fall time, I let the flowers grow because I like to the subtle taste of it in my salad dressing recipes.
Here's a favorite fall salad here at home that I adapted and tweeked from Vegetarian Times. The subtle flavor of basil flowers and garlic on red wine vinegar complemented the sweet squash and grapes. Perfect dish on its own or a nice side dish to grilled chicken or fish.
Roasted Squash, Green Beans & Grapes with Basil Flower and Garlic Vinaigrette
6 oz. green beans, trimmed
1 butternut squash with 4-inch neck
1 large white or red onion, peeled and quartered lengthwise
6 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 cup red seedless grapes
1 ½ Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. finely chopped basil flowers (stems and greens included; substitute with regular basil leaves if you can't find basil flowers)
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. finely grated garlic
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. sugar
Blanch green beans in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Cut 6 1/2-inch-thick wheels from neck of squash. (Reserve remaining squash for another use.) Peel and halve squash wheels. Toss squash and onions in a bowl with 2 Tbs. oil; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place squash and onions cut side up on baking sheet. Transfer green beans to same bowl, and toss to coat with oil that remains in bowl. Place green beans and grapes on baking sheet, separated slightly from squash and onions. Roast for 8 minutes, or until green beans are crisp-tender and grapes are warmed through. Remove green beans and grapes to foil sheet. Roast squash and onions 15 to 20 minutes more, or until browned.
Whisk together remaining 4 Tbs. oil, vinegar, basil flowers, rosemary, garlic, sugar in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Divide squash, shallots, green beans, and grapes among serving plates, and drizzle with dressing.