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Lift Heavy Holiday Meals With Tangy Squash Salad

A butternut squash salad is a nutritious and satisfying alternative to heavy holiday plates. Credit: Copyright 2016 P.K. Newby

A butternut squash salad is a nutritious and satisfying alternative to heavy holiday plates. Credit: Copyright 2016 P.K. Newby

To balance indulgent eats with healthier choices during the holiday season, add this big salad for supper featuring roasted vegetables, cranberries and toasted walnuts topped with a zingy maple-dijon vinaigrette to your repertoire. Butternut squash is the seasonal darling that takes eaters from autumn through the winter in a variety of tasty ways, whether baked and stuffed or as the basis for succulent soups and stews.

Whatever dish you’re making, roasting is a great way to coax the flavor from Cucurbita, and the starting point for this recipe. The sweet cubes come together with onions, cranberries, walnuts and a zesty dressing to create a delectable array of flavors and colors.

This salad makes a fun side, though for me it’s often a stand-alone supper when served over a bed of hearty greens, a “big salad” suitable for the colder months of the year. It works beautifully with fresh cranberries instead of dried, too: Just roast alongside onions, perhaps with a bit of sugar, unless you want a punch of tartness. Perhaps try adding white or cranberry beans for a protein and energy boost, or top with crumbled goat or blue cheese for a sumptuous finish. Make it your own, and enjoy this meal all winter long.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

You can serve this salad as a side, but it also makes for a great stand-alone supper. Credit: Copyright 2016 PK Newby

You can serve this salad as a side, but it also makes for a great stand-alone supper. Credit: Copyright 2016 P.K. Newby

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side

Ingredients

8 cups butternut squash, cubed

1 cup walnuts, toasted

1 large onion, large chop (about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely minced

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to season

1 cup dried cranberries

Chives, for garnish

4 cups greens (kale, arugula, mustard, etc.) (optional)

Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons walnut oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 475 F. Toast walnuts in oven while it is heating, about 5 minutes, until deepened in color and fragrant. Meanwhile, cut squash in large cubes and give the onion a large chop. Mince rosemary.

Place squash on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Toss together the onions and rosemary with the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a separate sheet. Place both in fully heated oven and toss the vegetables on the pan after 15 minutes, then continue cooking another 10 to 20 minutes until soft and browned in spots; the onions will take a shorter time. Remove both from oven and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, shallot, mustard, maple syrup and olive oil, then slowly drizzle in walnut oil, whisking to thicken. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, taste, and adjust ingredients and seasonings as desired.

Mix squash together with the onion and rosemary mixture and spoon onto a platter. Scatter with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with chives. Serve on a bed of greens, if desired, and pass additional dressing around the table.

Serve warm or at room temperature. To view a cooking video of a similar recipe, click here.



Zester Daily contributor P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and author with more than 20 years of experience researching diet-related diseases and teaching students about why what we eat matters, farm to fork. She is an adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard and spends most of her time writing, speaking, cooking and consulting to help build a healthier, more sustainable world. Her passion for nutrition stems from a lifelong love affair with food, developed from creating fabulous dishes in her own kitchen and working in the restaurant industry. She appeared on ABC’s “The Taste” as one of America’s “best undiscovered cooks” cooking globally inspired, plant-based cuisine. She is currently working on her next books to inspire people to live their healthiest lives, deliciously. Learn more about her and follow her blog: Cooking & Eating the PK Way.

 

 

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