It seems all I’ve got for you these days are salad posts, & here is yet another one (& more to come when I embark on my intense new year’s cleanse, but more on that later)! Winter foods tend to be richer & flavored with warm spices, the vegetables are starchier & more suitable for roasting, bringing out their flavor & natural sugars. With all these rich foods (not to mention cookie plates & holiday parties), it’s no wonder that our waistlines begin to grow this time of year.
As always, I prefer to eat what is in season, shopping at the farmers’ markets to select what is available locally. As I’ve been stocking up on dark leafy greens & winter squash, I’ve been continuing my daily salad habit, just swapping out ingredients as the seasons shift. One seasonal staple that I’ve been enjoying as of late is the delicata squash. Which was first introduced to be by my CSA (which I will be re-joining in the new year) a few winters ago.
While delicata squash is considered a winter squash, it is actually in the same species as the summer squash family. And while not as rich in beta carotene as kabocha (another on of my faves) or butternut squash, it still packs in a good source of fiber, vitamins B & C, magnesium & potassium. Delicata can be prepared a variety of ways, from baking to roasting, & steaming to sautéing. Typically, I might cut them in half & stuff them with a quiona mixture, lentils, veggie meat, etc., but lately I’ve been seeing them used in salads. As I am in a salad mood, I was inspired by For the Love of Food’s “Warm Winter Squash Salad” & quickly decided that was how I would enjoy my recent winter squash bounty.
I opted to roast them in rings, rather than bite sized pieces. To make the deseeding process quick & easy, I simply cut off each end of the squash & scooped out the innards with a spoon, before cutting them into 1/2 inch rounds. I then tossed the rings with at bit of coconut oil, & roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once.
Once the squash was roasted & slightly cooled, it was time to prepare the salad. While I took a few shortcuts in my version, I did de-seed a local farmers’ market pomegranate myself, rather than going for the convenient Trader Joe’s package – it’s just so much more cost effective to DIY, not to mention, I love supporting local growers. I did however cheat with the lentils, using Trader Joe’s Steamed & Ready to Eat Lentils. These are a staple in my household – I sprinkle them into salads, or toss with roasted beets & agave-mustard dressing, or mix with rice & stuff into squash or peppers, etc. They are so versatile. I wanted them warm for this salad, so I just submerged the package in boiling water for 5 minutes & viola!
To assemble the salad, I began with a few large handfuls of arugula, then layered the lentils, pomegranate seeds, & squash rings. Then, I topped the salad with chopped fresh mint & a black currant balsamic vinaigrette.
- 2 cups cooked french lentils
- 2 medium delicata squash
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 6 cups arugula
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons black currant balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- kosher salt & black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash into ½ inch rings, & remove seeds. Toss with coconut oil & lay flat on foil lined sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes, until tender, turning once.
- If using Trader Joe’s lentils, follow directions on the package, otherwise, if using dried lentils, add ½ cup dried lentils to 1 cup water to a pot & bring to a boil, & simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until tender.
- In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper. Mix ingredients until combined. Drizzle over salad & serve.
- Divide arugula amongst four plates, & top with warm lentils, squash, pomegranate seeds, & mint.
This warm & tasty salad is a wonderful way to enjoy the rich flavors of the season in a light & healthful way. I love the hearty lentils balanced with the fresh & peppery arugula with the sweet roasted squash, the tart burst from the pomegranate seeds, & cooling mint.
Enjoy, & Merry Christmas Eve, eve! I’ll be back soon with a Christmas recap, a 2012 round up, & guest post from Cameron!