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Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Salad

January 20, 2011

Back to work after a long weekend away. It’s always a little tough to face reality again when the alarm goes off on Tuesday morning. But the good news? It’s Tuesday morning. Not Monday. Tuesday. The short, four day week—it’s a gift from the long weekend, to help you re-adjust to the fact that you can’t spend everyday skiing and lounging by a gorgeous lake.

To ease our re-entry to working life this week, I made this butternut squash and pomegranate salad. Oh is it ever good. It’s savory. And sweet. And satisfying. It almost makes the fact that I’m sitting at my desk eating it ok. Well, almost ok.

This salad’s also a great way to use any butternut squash that you have leftover after making this pizza. Just buy a large squash at the grocery store, use a portion of the squash’s “neck” for the pizza, and then roast up the rest for this salad. Delicious dinner? Check. And 4 entree-sized salads? Check. All from one yummy—and healthy—butternut squash.

Well, it may be back to reality after a short vacation. But at least it’s a short week. And at least tomorrow’s Friday. Almost time for some new weekend adventures.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POMEGRANATE SALAD

Makes 4 entree-sized salads

For the salad

1 pomegranate
1 medium butternut squash (or 1/2 of a large butternut squash), approximately 1 lb.
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Mixed greens
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

For the vinaigrette

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to taste)
2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel and cube the squash (see photo). Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping the squash occasionally with a spatula, until soft and just beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, de-seed the pomegranate. I do this by cutting the pomegranate in half (see photo), and then half again—you’ll end up cutting through some seeds, but considering just how many seeds there are in a pomegranate, I don’t think this is a big deal. Use your hands to peel back the skin of each quarter, and gently release the seeds from the membrane (they should come out easily) into a small bowl filled with water. Any excess membrane will float to the top of the water, and the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Skim off any pieces of membrane, then drain the seeds.

Make the vinaigrette. Put the mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a large jar, and give it a good shake. This will emulsify the vinaigrette. I like to make a big jar of vinaigrette (double or triple the above recipe—or just eyeball it like I do) early in the week, so that I have a homemade vinaigrette stored in the fridge all week long.

Assemble the salad. If you’re going to eat this salad right away, simply throw everything in a large bowl and toss well.  If—like me—you’re going to pack this salad and bring it to work, assemble the salad as follows:

Divide the roasted squash among 4 large, to-go salad containers. Putting the squash on the bottom of the container (as opposed to on top of the greens) will make sure that the greens aren’t weighed down, which would cause them to wilt. Top the squash with several big handfuls of mixed greens, then the goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, pecans, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Divide the vinaigrette among 4 small containers (I like to use old spice or mustard jars). Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. And when you are ready to eat, simply add the vinaigrette to the to-go salad container, put the lid back on, and give it a good shake to coat everything in the vinaigrette. Enjoy.

Add the mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and leaves from 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme to large jar (see photo), and give it a good shake. This will emulsify the vinaigrette. I like to make a big jar of vinaigrette (double or triple the above recipe—or just eyeball it like I do) early in the week, so that I have a delicious, homemade vinaigrette stored in the fridge all week long.
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