One of the reasons people hate salad is the idea that salads are flavorless and boring. A bowl of anemic iceberg lettuce with a couple of slices of tomato comes to mind when I think of boring salad. Iceberg lettuce has it’s place, but there are so many other options iceberg is honestly one of the last things I think of when I think of salad. I tend to think of the darker, leafier greens, things like arugula, romaine, baby spinach. The darker greens have more flavor and add a nice textural element to any salad. It’s okay to think outside of the box when you start making salads. Think about adding seeds or nuts (candied, plain, or seasoned), soft cheeses, roasted vegetables, unique or interesting vegetables, beans, fruit (dried or fresh). Salads are a fun way to play with flavors you enjoy. I tend to enjoy spicy, smokey foods, that’s where the idea for this salad was born. A mix of roasted butternut squash, chickpeas, and petitas seasoned with cumin, paprika, a little brown sugar, and a little cayenne pepper served over a bed of rocket lettuce (arugula, you could also use baby spinach) makes for a wonderful winter salad. I love chickpeas roasted. They get a little crunchy. It’s wonderful. The addition of goat cheese rounds out this dinner salad.
Spicy Sqaush Salad (Serves 4)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 can of rinsed and drained chickpeas
- 1/2 cup unroasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika (sweet)
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
- 5 ounces of arugula, washed and spun
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 ounces of goat cheese crumbled
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix seasonings together in a small bowl, set aside. Toss squash, chickpeas, pepitas with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Coat with seasoning mixture. Cover a half sheet with nonstick aluminum foil. Pour the squash mixture onto the pan and roasted for 35 minutes. Flip the squash halfway through cooking. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl toss the arugula with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Then toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Divide the arugula among four plates. Top with 1/4 of the squash mixture and 1 ounce of goat cheese. Drizzle each plate with 3/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar. Serve.