Recipe of the day: Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

January 28, 2014

Recipe courtesy of Averie Cooks

A salad loaded with roasted squash, chunky veggies, crunchy almonds, and chewy dried cranberries is my perfect meal. The soft, slightly warm squash is a great contrast to the cooling greens. I used kabocha, use your favorite squash, and follow the easy whole-roasting method outlines. The almonds add a hearty crunch and contain plant-based protein and healthy fat to stay full and satisfied, while the cranberries add tart sweetness and chewiness. The balsamic vinaigrette is punchy and packed with tangy, intense flavor. The mustard and lemon take a backseat to the robust balsamic vinegar. Sweet, tangy, sour, and savory, all in one. Use my recipe as a guideline, and then tinker with the ratios of ingredients that taste best to you. Eating vegan, gluten-free, and sticking to your healthy resolutions is easy with satisfying meals like this. Use the recipe to clean out the odds and ends in your fridge or freeze and mix-and-match with your favorite veggies.

Ingredients: 

Salad

  • 1 winter squash, roasted, cleaned, and diced into 1-inch cubes (kabocha, butternut, buttercup, acorn, etc.)
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • half of 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or craisins, golden raisins, raisins)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (I used unsalted raw almonds, use your favorite nut; lightly toasted if preferred)


Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette - Makes about 1/2 cup

  • juice of half of 1 large lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon or brown, grainy mustard
  • 1+ tablespoon(s) brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1+ teaspoon(s) salt, to taste
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Wash squash and place it whole on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until squash has some give when squeezed.
  2. Slice squash open vertically, remove seeds and filaments; discard.
  3. Squash flesh should be fork-tender and soft. If it's not quite done, return halves to the baking sheet, cut side up, and continue to bake until done. Butternut sometimes takes longer than kabocha, buttercup, or acorn, closer to 60 minutes rather than 40-45. Baking times will vary based on squash size.
  4. Dice about 1 cup squash into 1-inch pieces for the salad; set aside. Extra squash can be stored for up to 5 days airtight in the refrigerator. Try any of these 12 squash recipes for the remainder, or just eat with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar, or dunked in extra vinaigrette.
  5. Place salad greens on a large plate.
  6. Evenly sprinkle with diced squash, carrot, cranberries, and almonds; set aide.
  7. Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette - In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the oil and whisk to incorporate.
  8. Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk vigorously to incorporate.
  9. Taste dressing and see what it needs and adjust accordingly.
  10. Drizzle over salad and serve. Extra dressing will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Re-whisk before using the leftover portion on future salads.

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