My partner and I went to Brugges for the Christmas markets and picked up some lovely cured duck. The ingredient was a specialty from the French region that the market seller hailed from. I do not remember the region now for the life of me, but I have images of the packaging below. Cured duck, I have learned, is a rather versatile dish. It still has all of the fat on it, which makes it a great ingredient for doing a duck carbonara. It looks like it is called Magret du Canard. The fig and nut jam was bought from the same seller. This ingredient can also be hard to come by, so I suggest leaving it out all together, if you cannot find it, or look for another suitable fruit jam. The fig and nut jam is not overly sweet, so I would suggest looking for something more subtle, like a caramelised onion jam.
This pasta salad is an interesting mix of “suitable for winter” with the roasted flavour of the butternut squash and the heaviness of the cured duck. However, it does still feel a bit light and refreshing. It is a weird juxtaposition of opposing feelings. That being said, it does make for a great all year round lunch and dinner option. The pasta salad is a lot less calories than I had originally thought it would be, which is a lovely surprise from this very flavoursome dish.
A quick note to my chef’s out there. Pasta salad is not a dish that you can make at 6pm for your dinner at 7pm. You need to ensure that you have time to let the dish chill, so starting this around lunch time is ideal! I have left a suggestion for the amount of time that it can stand for, however, this is the short-end of the spectrum, and can be left in the fridge overnight if you do so wish. This is especially important if you would like to have it for lunch the following day. I do suggest that you don’t leave it in the fridge for more than 3 days (as outlined below).
Calories per serving: 450
Cured duck and roasted butternut squash pasta salad
This is not a dish for people hoping to lose weight. It is rich, indulgent, and puts other pasta salads to shame with its richness. That being said, it is still delicious!
- 135g butternut squash
- 110 g (or 1.5 cups) pasta shells
- 1/4 raw red onion
- 8 walnuts (chopped large)
- 2 tsp garlic pureé
- 109g duck (magret du canard, however, if you cannot find this ingredient, you can cook your own duck breast and add it to the pasta salad)
- 1 tsp Mustard
- 2 tsp Creamed horse radish
- 2 tbsp Mayo
- 1 tbsp Fig and nut jam
- Salt and pepper to taste (add the salt slowly as the duck is already salty)
- Step 1 Prep the cooked food: Chop the butternut squash into cubes and place them onto a non-stick, or greased baking tray. Lightly drizzle the butternut squash with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake butternut squash at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Step 2 While the butternut squash is baking, boil your pasta and set aside. This needs to be cool before you add it to you dressing, otherwise it will make the mayonnaise taste poor. Mayonnaise is made with raw egg and it is not good to “cook” it, however, I break this rule often and don’t know why I am mentioning it here. Once you have made your pasta, add the garlic puree and stir well to evenly coat the shells, this will stop the shells from sticking to each other. Leave in the fridge to chill.
- Step 3 In a dry frying pan, place your walnuts and pine nuts and turn the heat to medium. You want to toast the nuts to help pull out their flavours and add additional texture to the dish. Walnuts are already fairly dark, and hard to judge how toasted they are, you can use the pine nuts to help you gauge the walnuts. You want your nuts to be be about a medium brown colour, however, taste the nuts and judge for yourself. The longer your toast them for, the more in danger you are from having them come out tasting like
- Step 4 Prep the uncooked food: I hinted above that you can add your uncooked food to the pasta once it has cooked to help with separating the shells, the garlic paste is the main ingredient, but the duck and onions would assist as well. There are many different options that you can take to prepare your dish, the dish is simplistic, and the effort is the preparation of the ingredients.
- Step 5 Chop your duck into small-ish cubes. The smaller the cubes are, the further the duck goes, and adds flavour more evenly to the salad.
- Step 6 Add all of your dressing ingredients together, mix, and place in the fridge.
- Step 7 Combine! Add all of your cooked and uncooked ingredients (everything but the dressing) to the pasta shells. You want to stir the mixture well so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed through the salad. Slowly, add your dressing. I say slowly not to be condescending, but it can become a hassle trying to evenly distribute pasta salad dressing when it has fallen into one heaping lump on your shells. I know this from experience. Once you are happy with the evenness, add your salad to the fridge.
- Step 8 Chill the salad for at least one hour, but you can go so far to chill for 2 or 3 if you would like. The dressing will become a bit of a marinade, and flavour the ingredients nicely. You can save your leftovers for up to 3 days in a well sealed plastic container. You don’t want to leave it too long, otherwise the mayonnaise will not be very nice.