Hyatt Training winter soups and salads with Roland CarfagnoOne of my favorite things about Roland Carfagno’s lecture and demonstration events is the reminder to “cook with love.” So often, it’s easy to get into the mindset that food and dinner prep is a chore, rather than a privilege and pleasure.

Roland owns Justa Pasta and on Wednesday, February 3, he presented his take on winter soups and salads at the Hyatt Training lecture series. He shared preparation and samples of the following things: arugula salad with roasted beets and gorgonzola (above), minestrone and butternut squash soup. Along the way we learned lots of tips, and Roland answered many questions from attendees.

Below you’ll find my take on Roland’s ingredients and “recipes.” Why “recipes” in quotes? Because, as we were reminded, part of being relaxed and finding pleasure in cooking is moving away from hard and fast recipes and working with what the ingredients will be and feeling your way with taste rather than hard and fast measurements.

Arugula & roasted beet salad

Arugula is a great winter time salad green with robust flavor. It pairs well with beets, which are also a great addition to salads for the nutritional value and hearty, filling flavors. While this salad calls for roasted beets, there are many ways to prepare cooked beets to use on salads.


  • Baby arugula or rocket
  • Roasted red beets
  • Gorgonzola or Oregonzola cheese
  • Balsamic vinaigrette


  1. Roast beets: peel, 1/2 – 3/4 inch dice, toss with olive oil and roast at 350-400 degrees until tender and starting to caramelize. Cool to room temperature before adding to salad.
  2. Prepare vinaigrette: Finely chop fresh garlic to taste. Wisk garlic in large bowl extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Use roughly 3:1 ratio for the oil to the vinegar. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Taste along the way adding and changing for your taste. You are making enough vinaigrette for this one salad, so start with what feels like a moderate amount of oil/vinegar because you can always add more!
  3. Add cleaned arugula to the large bowl with vinaigrette. Adding the amount of arugula that it takes bring a light coat of dressing to the greens.
  4. Transfer tossed greens to a serving bowl. Spread beets on top. Then sprinkle with gorgonzola.



Minestrone is a traditional Italian soup. It can have many different variations, and you can chop your vegetables in small or larger pieces depending on your taste.


  • Homemade chicken or vegetable stock* (see tips & tidbits for guidance)
  • Mirepoix: 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots finely chopped
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne
  • Cauliflower
  • Greenbeans
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Radicchio
  • Crushed canned tomatoes
  • Finely chopped garlic
  • Cannellini beans, cooked from dry according to directions
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish


  1. In large stock pot, saute the mirepoix in extra virgin olive oil until soft, aromatic and beginning to show some color. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
  2. Saute the additional veggies: add them to the pot starting with the longest cooking time, finishing with the shortest shortest. The ingredient list is arranged in this order. Start with Cauliflower. End with Radicchio. The idea at the end is the all the veggies will be fully cooked by the time the last (shortest cooking) veggie is finished. So give the cauliflower a head start over the green beans, etc.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and garlic. Saute about five minutes.
  4. Add the stock, warm through.
  5. Add the beans last, this is so they don’t over cook.
  6. Taste and add sea salt as necessary.
  7. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or parsley pesto and fresh grated parmesan cheese.


Butternut squash soup

I love Roland’s take on this traditional soup because it isn’t overly sweet, making it a satisfying main course on cold evenings.


  • Homemade chicken or vegetable stock* (see tips & tidbits for guidance)
  • Roasted butternut squash (ratio of squash to onions is 2:1 or 3:1)
  • Diced yellow onions (ratio of squash to onions is 2:1 or 3:1)
  • Fresh sage leaves approximately two tablespoons, chopped in to chiffonade.
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Mascarpone
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. In large stock pot, saute the onions in olive oil until soft and starting to show color. Roland says “color is flavor” so make sure the onions are well colored.
  2. Stir in the sage chiffonade, saute until aromatic.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Add squash.
  5. Add stock until mixture is well covered, then add one inch more to pot.
  6. Heat through.
  7. Use immersion blender to create desired consistency or smoothness.
  8. Taste, add heavy cream and mascarpone, blend in to soup. You can also make this dairy-free by omitted these ingredients.
  9. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese.


Tips & tidbits

  • What type of onion is best? It depends. Yellow onions are great for soups because they are a little sweeter. Red onions are great for a pasta primavera. Walla Walla sweet onions are a great addition when they are in season.
  • When do you salt your onions while cooking them? If you’re not caramelizing them, salt right away. If you are caramelizing them, salt at end.
  • Homemade stock: Start by sautéing the Mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots finely chopped) in olive oil. Add aromatics like parsley (whole) and black pepper corns. Add chicken carcass (all meat removed). Cover with water. Cook three hours. Drain liquid from solids. To make veggies stock, follow the same guidelines, but use left over veggie scraps and/or mushrooms in place of the chicken.
  • Vinaigrettes: Use the ratio of 3:1 for oil to vinegar/acid. Always make salad dressings from scratch. It’s great to make them directly in the bowl you’ll be using to toss your salad, or a blender/food processor works well too.
  • When roasting veggies, place in a large bowl to toss with olive oil and sea salt. Then place on roasting pan. Use an oven that is 350-400 degrees.
  • Roland’s candied walnuts: Blanch walnuts for one minute. Toss in powdered sugar, salt, pepper and if you like it, a little cayenne. Toast in oven until brown.