A few years back when I was visiting my parents my mom asked me to help make a light dinner for some friends of hers. It was early November and I remember she had beautiful butternut squash on the counter, so I decided to make a “Harvest Salad” with all the flavors of the season. It was an enormous success and one of her friends hired me to make her that same salad for her family’s Thanksgiving a few weeks later. Since then I have use this salad as one of my “go to” meals for light autumn lunches and dinners. Over the years I have tweaked some ingredients, I got rid of some cheese, added some grains, and I have made the dressing oil-free!
Not only is this salad healthy, it is also stunning with drastic colors of the orange squash, bright red pomegranates, green arugula, and purple onions. And because it’s not just greens, this salad is well balanced and very filling. You can use it as a side or as its own standout entree. It can be served with warm squash and warm dressing, or chilled for a picnic.
I chose to use Farro in this recipe because of its nuttiness and incredible texture. Farro keeps its shape well while retaining an amazing chew. It adds an earthiness to the salad that balances great with the herbs and spices in the dressing. *
There are many different ways to cook grains, many which include olive oil and butter to help the grains not stick together. For grains that hold their shape well, like Farro, I like to use the pasta method. In a sauce pot, you will bring salted water to a boil (you can always use vegetable broth along with aromatics like onion, garlic, pepper, herbs, and bay leaves). Add the grains and keep them at a boil until they are tender, then drain. This method works great because you will get an even cook and you don’t have to use added fat to separate the grains. You can make a large batch of Farro and keep it in the fridge for another dish, like a risotto or a vegetable soup.
This recipe is perfect to make ahead of time, you can roast the squash, cook the farro, and make the dressing on the weekend and assemble it whenever you are ready later in the week. Enjoy!
Roasted Squash Salad with Cider Sage Dressing
A filling and colorful fall salad to show off the produce of the season. A great addition to your holiday table.
- 1.5 cups apple cider
- 2.5 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp fresh sage minced
- 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 7 oz arugala washed
- 1/2 purplr onion thinly sliced
- 1 pomegranate seeded
- 2 cups farro
- 1 small butternut squash peeled,seeded, & cubed
Preheat oven to 415 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper . In a bowl toss the cubed butternut squash with a few tablespoons of water or apple cider, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and spread on baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until tender, remove from oven and set aside.
Prepare the Farro. In a medium sauce-pot, bring salted water to a boil, add the farro and keep at a boil until the grains are tender about 20-30 minutes. Check periodically to test doneness. Drain and set aside.
Dressing: in a small sauce-pot, mix the apple cider and cornstarch, whisk together until the cornstarch is incorporated. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and whisk for 3-4 minutes until the dressing thickens slightly.
Add in the sage, shallots, applesauce, dijon, salt and pepper. Simmer and whisk for another 2 minutes, remove from heat. Finish with the apple cider vinegar and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. (more salt/pepper/vinegar/mustard)
In a large serving bowl arrange the arugula, you can compose the rest of the salad ingredients or mix them all together. Serve with the Cider-Sage dressing.
*If you can't find Farro you can always use any of your favorite grains, like quinoa, bulgar, or even cous cous.
*This salad would be great with a good fresh crusty rosemary bread!