Appetites: How to cut squash, and not your fingers

While many of us have food enthusiasms, Amanda Paa's fondness for squash extends to pure passion. The Minnesota food writer, photographer and recipe developer shares her "limitless" adoration in her new book "Smitten with Squash."

Paa joined MPR News' Tom Crann to chat about the versatility of one of the season's most iconic ingredients.

She shared easy tips to safely peel and cut tough-skinned winter squash in this video as well as a recipe for a squash salad with maple balsamic dressing (included below).

Minnesota Wild Rice & Butternut Squash Salad
Minnesota Wild Rice & Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette is featured in "Smitten with Squash," which was published this summer.
Courtesy of Amanda Paa

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Recipe: Minnesota Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Salad

Serves five to six

• 2 1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped butternut squash

• 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

• sea salt

• black pepper

• 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced spinach

• 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, both white and green parts

• 1/2 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)

• 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

• 3 cups cooked wild rice, warmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until fork tender. In a large bowl, combine spinach, leeks, cherries and basil. Stir in warm rice and squash so that spinach wilts slightly from the heat. Stir dressing (recipe below) into salad; taste and adjust salt level if needed. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe: Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

• 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

• 1 clove garlic, minced Prepare dressing by pureeing all ingredients with an immersion blender or by vigorously whisking.