What comes to your mind when you hear the word salad? I’ve been told that it includes romaine lettuce, raw red onions, and maybe some cherry tomatoes. The salad has the ability to be cooked, raw, colorful, sweet, savory and promote each seasons best produce bounty, yet it still holds the reputation of being boring and bland. These perceptions are far from the truth.
After going out to eat recently and discovering the only meat-free and dairy-free option was a plain jane green salad, I became determined to make a salad that was far from average. Butternut squash and pomegranate are in season, making them readily available and inexpensive. The roasted squash lends notes of caramel, while the pomegranate seeds give a tart bite. Arugula is by far my most favorite green for its bright and peppery flavor. I roasted some pecans for a nice toasty crunch for the top. Feel free to sub for walnuts, almonds, or any other nut of your choice.
I don’t like to use a lot of oil in my cooking, which can make dressings difficult. I ended up tossing the butternut squash in some apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and pepper before roasting it, then had enough left over to pour over the top of the completed salad. It was the perfect addition, emphasizing each ingredients addition to the plate. Sweet, tart, bitter, and savory flavors swirl together to make a colorful salad that’s anything but boring! Not only is this salad a rainbow of deliciousness, but it’s a nutritional powerhouse! This low cal meal boasts antioxidants, fiber, omega 3’s, protein, folic acid, and vitamin K (thanks, arugula.)
Watch this video for an easy way to harvest your pomegranate seeds!
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
2 large handfuls of arugula
1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Prepare a sheet pan with non stick spray or parchment paper.
2.Whisk together apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Place the butternut squash on the sheet pan, and toss squash in a few teaspoons of vinaigrette until coated. Reserve the rest of the vinaigrette for the salad dressing. Roast squash for 35 minutes until browned on the outsides.
3. Harvest the pomegranate seeds by slicing the pomegranate into quarters. One quarter at a time, place into a bowl of cold water and peel the seeds from the white pith. The seeds will sink to the bottom, and the pith will float. Drain into a colander, and remove all remaining white pieces.
4. Assemble the salad by placing the arugula on a platter or large plate. Layer the butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, and pecans, then drizzle with the remaining maple vinaigrette. Enjoy with your favorite whole grain such as brown rice or quinoa.
Please leave me a comment and let me know if you try this recipe, I’d also love to hear any variations! See you soon and remember, it’s only healthy if you eat it!