I’ll admit, I got carried away while developing this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. I just kept adding more: more crunch, more spice, more flavor. In the end, the meaty winter squash combined with the kick of the Moroccan spices, the crunch of the nuts and seeds, the creaminess of the avocado, the sweetness of the oranges, and the rustic heartiness of the bread to form a delicious combination that makes the transition from summer to fall a very welcome one indeed. And don’t worry if you lack some of the fresh ingredients, as any type of winter squash or fall greens will work. Also, consider topping the salad with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt to add a little more protein and balance the spiciness of the red pepper flakes.
Yield : 4-6 servings
- 2 medium-sized butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- ¾ cup walnut oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
- 2 oranges, halved
- 3 ripe avocados
- 6 slices sourdough bread or ciabatta bread, each about 1/2 inch thick
- Splash of red wine vinegar
- 2 cups mixed salad greens
- Bean sprouts (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Halve and remove seeds from the squash. Place squash flesh-side down on a cutting board and cut each half lengthwise into 3 slices, then cut the slices into similar-sized wedges. Put the slices in a roasting pan and set aside while you prepare the dressing.
- In a mortar, add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and cumin seeds, then grind with the pestle. Add garlic, thyme, and a little oil, and continue grinding until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick paste. Add 1/4 cup of the walnut oil and the balsamic vinegar to the mixture and blend well. Brush this marinade over the flesh of the squash slices, leaving the cut-sides facing up. Add the oranges to the roasting pan, putting them cut sides facing down. Place the squash and oranges in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife pierces easily through the flesh of the squash.
- While the squash is roasting, halve and peel the avocados, then cut them into wedges lengthwise and place them in a large bowl. Place the bread on a cookie sheet, drizzle with walnut oil, then cook in the oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the squash and oranges from the oven and allow them to cool enough for you to handle them. Carefully remove the outer skin of the squash slices with a sharp knife and put them in the bowl with the avocados.
- Using some tongs, squeeze the roasted orange juice into a medium-sized bowl along with a splash of red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of the walnut oil. Stir vigorously until the dressing is emulsified. Pour over the slices of avocados and squash. Gently mix together and adjust the seasonings to taste.
- Tear the bread into small, chunky pieces and add to the salad along with the greens and bean sprouts (if desired), then transfer to a large platter or divide among individual plates. Sprinkle toasted nuts and seeds over the salad and serve.
Stacy Harris is pioneering the farm-to-fork eating movement that includes harvesting wild animals in addition to domesticated animals and homegrown fruits and vegetables. She’s the author of several books about sustainable living for healthy families. For more recipes like this, check out her website at GameandGarden.com and her Facebook page.