Most of my friends know that winter squash (be it butternut, kabocha, or acorn) is one of my all-time favorite ingredients. It requires very little effort to make it taste amazing, and it can be used in such a wide variety of dishes.
While I'm a huge fan of creamy squash soup, and I'll never say no to a winter squash galette (in fact, we're making one tonight), I think my very favorite preparation is just cutting the squash into cubes and roasting them in the oven. A slick of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and a sprinkle of cumin is truly all it takes to make the best roasted squash in the biz.
Ok, enough about my love affair with squash. Let's talk about this salad! A winter salad may sound like an oxymoron: we're all craving warm, comfort foods in this chilly weather, right? Well, I find I often need a break from the cream soups and casseroles, and it's not like this is just a pile of spinach (far from it). With the right combination of ingredients, a winter salad will become your stand-by between December and February. Eat it for dinner, pack it for lunch, or make it the star of your holiday table. It's so versatile, you can do all three!
I think tender, peppery arugula pairs beautifully with the kabocha, but watercress or baby spinach would also be nice. Butternut can be used in place of the kabocha (which, if you've never had it, is sweet, creamy, and delightful), and goat cheese would be delicious if you prefer it to feta. The pumpkin seeds in this salad are one of my favorite components (they are tossed in oil and spices and baked until toasty), but try pistachios or pecans if you'd prefer. Just don't skip the pomegranate seeds. They add such a beautiful pop of color, and the juice goes in the dressing!
As always, let us know if you make this salad (comment below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or take a pic and tag #doublethyme on Instagram). Enjoy!
Winter Squash Salad With Pomegranate and Feta
For the salad:
- 1 pound kabocha squash (1/2 medium-sized squash), peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size cubes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- 1 pomegranate (you'll need about 1/2 cup seeds, plus more for making juice)
- 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 cup)
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup fresh pomegranate juice from the pomegranate (see below for juicing instructions)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400°F. Spread the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil until the cubes feel slick, season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of ground ginger (about 1/8 teaspoon), and several grinds black pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
But wait—don't put away your oil and spices! In a small bowl, toss the pepitas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and a pinch of ground ginger. Spread onto a small baking sheet and bake until toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Using a lightly damp cheesecloth or lightly damp paper towels, wring out a few handfuls of pomegranate seeds over a bowl until you have 1/4 cup juice. Add the juice to a blender with the vinegar, the shallot, Dijon, honey, and oil. Blend until creamy and season with salt and pepper. For a slightly less emulsified dressing, you can make this by hand—combine all ingredients except for the oil, then slowly drizzle in the oil as you continue whisking.
Place the arugula in a large bowl. Top with the roasted squash, the toasted pepitas, as many pomegranate seeds as you desire (likely about 1/2 cup; you will have extra), and the feta. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.
Recipe adapted from the Natural Gourmet Institute.