Sweet roasted winter squash goes together with bitter greens like chocolate and peanut butter (high 5 if you made it through Halloween without at least one dirty little pb cup). They balance out each other’s decisive flavours and textures so well. This salad embraces all things naturally sweet and bitter plus the health benefits that come with both.
Plain, roasted squash is a staple in my house this time of year. There is a different type for every day of the week and it goes with practically everything. And all of that orangey-yellow pigment means that it is full of carotenoids (anticancer pigment power) and that you are getting SO MUCH beta-carotene (that, if all goes well, your body will turn into vitamin A).
Guess what else? Winter squash is also warming. As in, it grows during the cooler months especially to reward those of us who are eating seasonally, with a warm hug. Thanks winter squash. It is also a good source of magnesium. Because getting out of bed in the morning when it is still dark out can be stressful.
I have used acorn squash in this recipe, but feel free to use whatever squash you have on hand. If you are using organic, I encourage you to leave the skin on. It will give it more texture (like leaving the skin on a roasted apple), and give you the optimal amount of those tricky nutrients that live in between the skin and the orange flesh. Acorn, butternut, delicata, spaghetti and sugar pumpkin work well with the skin on. The only one that sometimes makes me feel like it actually doesn’t want it’s skin eaten is kabocha (it’s the gnarly one that sometimes has crazy looking veggie warts). It also happens to be my favourite squash once you get past its tough exterior. You can leave the skin on kabocha squash while it roasts, just remove it afterwards if necessary (way easier than removing it pre-roasting).
One of the most important tips when working with squash (and many other veggies) is to make sure it is heavy. I know it’s squash, so it’s probably heavy anyway, but make sure it is the heaviest one in the pile for its size. This will ensure it is sweet and flavourful, the way that squash should be. It helps to buy it in season and as locally as possible.
A small bonus that not many people know about, is the squash seeds. Pumpkin seeds don’t have to be just for that one pre-Halloween pumpkin-carving day. The seeds taste just as good in almost all winter squash (all except kabocha. Again.) I don’t even rinse them, just toss them with a pinch of salt, pepper and dried turmeric, and roast in your toaster oven until they get nice and dry. All. Winter. All of that zinc in the freshest pumpkin seeds available without that awkward moment at the Whole Foods checkout when you realize you’re spending $35 on not that many bulk organic pumpkin seeds and you really don’t want to put them back. For free, you guys! A healthy, delicious by-product.
I highly recommend serving this as a warm and cold/room temp salad. Toss it together when the squash still has some warmth, and pull the lettuce (and other ingredients) out 30 minutes or so in advance. If you are using leftover squash (best ever use of leftover squash), just warm it up in your oven briefly beforehand, this will make a world of difference flavour-wise and remind your body how much you love it.
I literally tear the squash up with my hands because I love the crags that the vinaigrette and herbs get sucked into. Also it reminds me of the smashed pumpkins leftover from Halloween, so totally appropriate all week long (although I don’t recommend actually roasting up your smashed pumpkin remains…). The real star of the show is the squash, but the rest of the salad is full of bitter and sweet nutrient-rich goodies. It’s very satisfying and is a nice clean but hearty meal. The perfect balance to a weekend of scary indulgence.
- ½ an Acorn Squash (seeded, and cut in half again)
- 1 head of Frisée (or other winter green -kale, mustard, radicchio etc)
- ½ bunch Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
- 6 Green Onions, thinly sliced
- ½ c Brazil nuts (or other seeds/nuts), chopped
- ½ c cooked Lentils (or 1 Tbsp, soaked and sprouted for 2-3 days)
- 1 Pear (or apple), sliced
- 1-2 Black Radishes (or other radishes), thinly sliced
- 3 Celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Grainy Mustard (or homemade broccoli mustard)
- 1 Garlic Clove
- ¼ c Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325*F
- Roast the Squash for around 45 minutes or until tender (reserve the seeds to roast like pumpkin seeds!)
- Meanwhile prepare the rest of the veggies and toss them together in a big bowl.
- When the squash is ready, let cool enough to touch (but is still warm) and tear it into pieces (you can always reheat it after the tearing step).
- Toss it with the vinaigrette on its own and then add it to the salad (if using cooked lentils, warm them too and toss them with the squash at this point).
- Toss the salad with the added squash and a bit more vinaigrette and serve.
- Using a hand blender (or regular blender), blend all ingredients together.