Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pan Roasted Butternut Squash Salad - Salads Galore

Lately my colleagues' favorite topic of discussion at lunchtime has been healthy living. Everyone has been trying to eat better, exercise more since the new year. I don't get a whole lot of exercise other than running around my daughter, and weekly dance class,  but I always make an effort to eat as healthy as I can. This includes eating lots of veggies, beans, whole grains, and fruits, and minimizing anything that comes out of a box/can. I have also been trying to buy local, organic foods as much as I can. Many of our dinners comprise of big bowls of salads. Luckily we can eat salads any time of the year, even while rest of the country is half frozen.

Here are three salads I prepared this week:

Broccoli madness: This is easily my most favorite salad ever! I have been eating broccoli madness at a local soups+salads chain called Souplantation. The chain also exists in Florida by the name Sweet Tomatoes. I had been consuming this salad happily until recently, when I found out that it contained bacon! No more broccoli madness at Souplanatation for me. But I found their copycat recipe here, and made it sans bacon. I loved the salad just as much, so it had nothing to do with bacon :D. I used a little less mayo than what the recipe required. My next experiment will be making this with thick yogurt instead of mayo.


Berry salad with maple-balsamic vinaigrette: I am a huge fan of fruity salads. I prepared a simple salad with mixed greens, sliced strawberries, chopped walnuts, and a sweet and tangy maple-balsamic vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was adapted from this recipe. I omitted shallots, added a touch of garlic salt instead of fresh garlic, and added a tablespoon of maple syrup instead of a teaspoon of honey. Totally delicious! My daughter snacked on strawberries. 



I picked up The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen at Costco over the weekend. For someone who loves to cook and eat, I am not big on collecting cookbooks. But one look at this book, and I knew I had to buy it. This book deserves its own post, so more about it later. However, here is something I tried from the book last night - roasted butternut squash with maple dressing and goat cheese. How good does that sound? It tasted just as great. The original recipe could be eaten as a side dish, but I turned it into a meal by making a few changes. First, I pan roasted butternut squash instead of roasting in the oven. I try not to waste energy by using the oven for small things. The key was using perfectly ripe butternut squash though - it cooked really fast over flame. The original recipe called for a topping of pecans. I had walnuts on hand. They worked perfectly fine. I laid these beautifully roasted butternut squash slices over a bed of baby spinach to turn it into a meal sized salad. This had everything I like in salad - the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors, and contrasting textures. The big plus was that I could mash butternut squash with a fork and my daughter absolutely loved it!


Pan Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Dressing, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Ingredients:
1 Medium butternut squash
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1/2 Cup maple syrup
1 Teaspoon paprika
Goat cheese for garnishing
Baby spinach - as much as you like
Salt to taste
  • Wash and peel butternut squash. Cut it in the center lengthwise and remove all the seeds. Cut each half of the squash into 1/2'' slices. 
  • Heat a large skillet/pan over medium heat. Add butter and swirl it around to cover the pan. Add butternut squash slices to the pan in one layer, sprinkle with salt to taste, and turn the heat to medium-high. 
  • Cover the pan and let the squash caramelize on one side. Takes around 4-5 minutes. Once golden brown on one side, turn all the pieces and do the same on the other side. Insert a fork to make sure the squash is cooked through. 
  • Take the squash off the pan and add walnuts to the same pan and toast for a couple of minutes.
  • Add paprika, and a little salt to maple syrup and whisk. 

To assemble the salad:
  • Add roasted squash over a bed of baby spinach. Drizzle maple syrup dressing. Sprinkle goat cheese and chopped walnuts. 
Dig in!


4 comments:

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