happiness: lemony squash and roasted pork


butternut squash pork salad, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

Happiness arrives on a rainy afternoon, after a long walk through the neighborhood. Happiness steps forward on a break from waiting, waiting for the words to fall through my fingers. Happiness emerges shyly, then stays, brazenly, for a few moments.

Walking west on Galer, the grey clouds taking a break for ten minutes. Light blazes through yellow leaves, stubbornly sticking to black branches. A single note plucked on a guitar string. Resonance — that old feeling. High up on the scale. Ineffable.

Watching my hand reach for a small pork top round roast, just under a pound, from Niman Ranch. Organic. Sustainable. And tenderness — nothing like the shrink-wrapped at the grocery store. Pork roast memory redolent on my tongue from two days before, I carried it to the check-out counter. That familiar percolation — what could I make of this food?

Fat crackling. The kitchen smoke singing. Slices falling away from my knife.

Lemon salt expanding. Dark pumpkin liquid spilling from a tall green bottle. Little globs of goat cheese, falling from my fingers. Wild greens twisting to meet it all.

Sigh. Happiness.

Pork roast and butternut squash salad

This salad emerged from my mind two days ago. Struck by the thought of more pork roast, I had to create something. Trader Joe’s sells not only Niman Ranch pork — considered by many foodies to be the best pork available nationally — but also little bags of wild greens for one.

That’s me: wild greens for one.

Roast some butternut squash with this pumpkin seed oil — lately my favorite oil — with some Meyer lemon sea salt, and listen to it sizzle in the oven.

Do you have sunflower seeds on hand? Throw those in there too. The sweet salt puckers the mouth around the squash, and it all rushes from that spot into you. Becomes you. Literally.

one small pork round roast
a splash of rich, green olive oil
enough herbs de provence to cover the top of the roast
Meyer lemon sea salt, to taste
cracked black pepper

one half of a butternut squash, seeds removed
liberal splashes of pumpkin seed oil
more Meyer lemon sea salt

two good handfuls of wild greens
dibs and dabs of herbed goat cheese
a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, salted

Lap waves of pumpkin seed oil on the cut-open half of butternut squash. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in a 400° oven for forty-five minutes, or until the flesh yields to your fork. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Smear the top of the pork with olive oil, Meyer lemon sea salt, the herbs de provence, and cracked black pepper, enough to make a crust on top. Roast it in a 425° oven, or until the meat thermometer reads 140°. Don’t worry if your oven smokes.

Slice the pork roast into large bites. Save half of it aside for the next day’s festival of eating.

Lay down a bed of wild greens, then arrange the pork neatly on top of it. (Who am I kidding? Just throw the pork in there, because you’re only going to eat it.) Layer chunks of soft butternut squash, gobs of goat cheese, and more pork on the greens. At the last, sprinkle some sunflower seeds on top.

You probably won’t even need dressing. Everything else is so richly textured and five-thousand tasted that anything else would be overkill.

10 comments on “happiness: lemony squash and roasted pork

  1. Lydia

    Shauna, this sounds so wonderful I wish I could have been there to share it with you. You continue to inspire me. Thanks for sharing vicariously.

  2. beastmomma

    That sounds delicious. I am recently filling an order from my mother to get more protein. It is quite the journey.

  3. Anne

    Did you mean to say “unsalted sunflower seeds” given that there is salt in the dish already???

    sweetly,
    Anne

  4. kitchenmage

    drool I just returned home with a pork roast–not Niman’s like some peoople in the *city* get, but it still looks good–which I’ve been debating what to do with. This has left me inspired, and think I have sweet potatoes (not squash), walnut oil (not pumpkin), spinach (not wild greens), feta (not goat cheese), and lavendar salt (not lemon–although I must make some, your description made my mouth water!). Oddly enough, that all seems like I could swap it in and get some amusing variation. Except maybe the sweet potatoes, but I do have yukon golds. Hmmm. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Shauna

    Lydia:

    Thank you. I wish you could have been here too. When I was hopping around in the kitchen, because it tasted so good, I did think: too bad no one else is here to eat this with me! Let me know if you come in town.

    Beastmomma:

    I seem to be on a protein kick these days as well, because my refrigerator has been filled with meat. Pork hocks for hopppin john, a chicken for roasting, and there was some delicious pepper bacon this morning.…
    Thank goodness I eat all my veggies!

    Anne:

    Ah, I have to admit it — I’m a salt girl. I had salted sunflower seeds in the house, so I used those, and thus indicated them in the recipe. You could certainly use unsalted ones if you want. The interesting bit is that good sea salt is such condensed taste that you only have to use a tiny pinch to make the flavors sing. Thus, the dish isn’t really that salty.

    Kitchenmage:

    Your variation sounds fabulous! Lavender salt? Wow. Let me know!

    P. Campbell:

    Oh goody! It is lovely to find other gluten-free bloggers. Welcome.

  6. Gretchen

    I made this for my husband and mom, and it turned out simply amazing. It feels glamorous and fancy, but it really isn’t hard to make. I didn’t have lemon salt, but I mixed a little lemon extract in with sea salt and it turned out great. Thanks for the great recipes!

  7. Lauren

    Did you mean to put an estimated time on roasting the pork? I’m new to cooking and would love the tip! :)