Roasted Butternut Squash Salad {plus a giveaway}

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For me personally, I’m currently working on a much-needed kitchen update, and other than replacing my island counter top, I’m doing most of the work myself {with the generous help of my dad while my husband is at work}. This means I haven’t put up Halloween decorations or even so much as bought a carving pumpkin yet, much to the chagrin of my two children. There’s so many directions we’re all pulled in, with work, school schedules, household duties, various crisis’ along the way, that the whirlwind of the holiday season from October to January can sometimes feel like an extra headache instead of a reason to celebrate.
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During the holidays especially, I find it difficult to care for myself. I always take a back-seat to everyone else’s needs around me. Sound familiar? I’m trying to be better and one little hint I have is prepping a salad for yourself for the entire week. I used to only associate Farmer’s Markets with the summer, but as we’ve gone along this fall, I’ve been happily visiting my local Farmer’s Markets at least once a week and still finding plenty of local produce to get excited about. Around here I know that through the winter lots of farms continue to sell fresh greens they grow in their greenhouses, and I bet you’ll find the same in your own area of the country.

It never dawned on me until recently how long fresh salad greens can actually last if they are local and stored properly. After all, the plastic boxes you buy at the grocery have already been sitting, picked, waiting to be stored and then still have to travel long distances before you even think about eating them. No wonder they seem to get soggy after only a couple of days in my fridge at home.

Butternut Squash Salad

My current favorite salad is a mix of local greens, roasted butternut squash and walnuts topped with flavored oil and vinegar. On the side, I’ll toast a frozen slice of bread from my favorite local baker and top it with either peanut butter {vegan} or cream cheese {vegetarian}. With just a little prep on the weekend, I can enjoy this 5-minute lunch all week and actually feel a little healthier and pampered for it. So here’s how…

First, make a trip to your local market and buy a big bag of greens and a couple of butternut squash. On the weekend, first wash your greens and spin them in a salad spinner {ideal} or be sure to dry them very well with paper towels.

Local Salad Greens Spread them gently on one layer of paper towels, top with another layer and roll it all up, like a yoga mat.

Local Salad Greens Place your salad roll back in the storage bag it came in and you have fresh greens for the entire week.
Local Salad Greens

If you’ve never prepared a whole squash for roasting, it might seem like a knife accident waiting to happen. Knowing how and where to cut is key.

Butternut Squash Prep

First, cut a small piece off each end of the squash. This makes sure there is flat surface on your cutting board and under your knife. 

Next, slice your squash in half crosswise so that you separate the seeded rounded part from the neck.
Butternut Squash Prep

Now that you have two pieces, slice each in half lengthwise, or from top to bottom.
Butternut Squash Prep

Using a spoon, scoop the seeds from the round part into a bowl or garbage can, just like you would if carving a pumpkin.
Butternut Squash Prep

Now switch knives and use a pairing knife to carefully slice away the skin of the squash. And now you are ready to chop it into cubes.
Butternut Squash Prep

Once you’ve chopped it, toss the squash with a pinch of salt, some olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Spread it evenly onto a sheet pan.
Butternut Squash Prep

Roast it in your oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Stirring at least once during roasting time. You’ll know the squash is ready when it is pierced easily with a fork.
Butternut Squash Prep

Let the squash cool and store it in an air-tight container, ready for your week of healthy lunches.
Butternut Squash Salad Lunch

I top mine with an orange flavored oil and cinnamon pear vinegar I purchased at a local store called The Spicy Olive that only sells oil and vinegars. Search around and find your own favorite combo. The bread pictured is a fresh loaf from Blue Oven Bakery, flavored with dried apricots, cranberries and walnuts. It’s so delicious! Find your own bread, even a whole grain loaf from Panera, and store the slices in your freezer. When ready to eat, simply toast one a couple of times, spread with your favorite topping and eat it with your salad. A healthy and nourishing lunch with only a minimum of preparation time on the weekend. You all are certainly worth that!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 2 butternut squash, peeled and diced {see photo illustrations above}
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 1 large bunch local salad greens
  4. toasted walnuts
  5. extra virgin olive oil {preferably flavor-infused}
  6. balsamic vinegar {preferably flavor-infused}
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust rack to middle position.
  2. Peel and cube squash and add to bowl. Sprinkle squash with salt and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Toss well to combine.
  3. Spread squash evenly on a sheet pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until fork tender. Be sure to stir at least once during cooking time.
  4. Allow to cool and store in fridge to use as your salad topping throughout the week.
  5. To serve, combine a generous amount of local greens, a handful of the roast squash, about a tablespoon of toasted walnuts and a drizzle of both the oil and vinegar. Serve with toast topped with peanut butter or cream cheese.
Foodtastic Mom http://www.foodtasticmom.com/