Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Blue Cheese, and Walnuts

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I began my Thanksgiving celebration a little early, cooking up a small traditional feast this past Sunday that was happily devoured while watching the Packers squeak by the Lions. While Thanksgiving leftovers might even be better than the  main event, whether eaten as is or repurposed into other meals, there's only so much heavy food my system can take before I just start to feel unbearably sluggish. When I know I've hit my indulgence limit, I turn to meals like this. If your Thanksgiving feast leaves you with any leftover roasted squash, it would be perfect here, but it's well worth the effort to roast cubes of squash specifically for this recipe. Sweet, caramelized butternut squash and tart cranberries are the very soul of fall harvest flavor, contrasting perfectly pungent blue cheese and rich, toasty walnuts. Although hearty and filling just as is, leftover Thanksgiving turkey would certainly be welcome, substituting for part or all of the butternut squash. Although I think of this as a light lunch, it is also beautiful and elegant enough to serve at a holiday celebration, particularly if you'll have vegetarian guests that can get short shrift as everyone admires the majesty of the turkey. No matter the occasion, this is a flavorful and beautiful dish full of the spirit of the season.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Blue Cheese, and Walnuts
serves 1

4 ounces butternut squash, cut into small cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces baby spinach or other mixed greens, rinsed and dried
1/2 ounce thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
1 ounce crumbled blue cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast under cubes are tender and  nicely browned, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes. Let cool slightly, or to room temperature, if desired.

2. Spread greens evenly on a large plate and top with red onion, squash cubes, cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese. Top with dressing of choice and enjoy!

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