December 10, 2013
Roast Butternut Squash Salad
Yes, yes. I know it's holiday baking season and I'm posting a salad. Don't worry there will be more decadent desserts this week and next. Promise! In the meantime, I need to get you this salad recipe. At some point this holiday season you will be going to an event and you will end up being assigned a side dish. If you are anything like me you do two things. First, you panic because you can think of one thousand desserts and not a single side dish that feeds a lot of people and isn't a pain to make/keep hot/eat while standing up. Second, you will wonder if anyone will notice if you brought a dessert even though your last name was assigned sides. Surely everyone else will bring plenty of sides to compensate if one person switches to the dessert side, right? Right?
Well, since at any given potluck at least half the people assigned a side dish will bring a dessert anyway you can probably get away with it. However you don't have to! Not only is this salad festive and seasonal, it's incredibly easy.
I first made this salad over 2 years ago for a fall baby shower. Since then it's become a standard for events or even just dinners with friends when I need to bring a side dish. It doesn't take long to actually throw together (although roasting the squash does require a little planning ahead) and even if you don't want to make the dressing yourself it pairs well with a nice balsamic vinaigrette which you can buy anywhere. You can even buy pre-chopped fresh butternut squash in most grocery stores now-one more step saved!
There will be chocolate tomorrow, I promise :)
Roast Butternut Squash Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
For the salad:
1 1/2-2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash (either a medium squash chopped into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces or one bag of pre chopped squash from the refrigerated section of the produce aisle)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
8-10 oz fresh baby spinach or mixed greens
For the dressing:
3/4 cup apple cider (or juice)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the peeled and chopped squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toss with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper until all the squash is coated. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. At about the 15 minute point, add the dried cranberries to the baking sheet. Set aside to cool.
In a saucepan over medium heat combine the cider, vinegar and shallots. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-6 minutes until the mixture has reduced down to about 1/4 of a cup. Remove from the heat and then mix in the mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Put the spinach into a salad bowl, and mix with the roasted squash and cranberries. Add in the pecans and parmesan. If you are putting the dressing on the whole salad, you want just enough to moisten the greens. Otherwise, serve on the side (which is my preference).