We often buy butternut (or as the Americans would say, butternut squash) in bulk on special and then run out of ideas on what to do with it because, let’s face it, there are only so many ways you can cook a butternut before getting sick of it. This recipe, however, has changed my outlook on butternut for good – it is the yummiest salad I have eaten in a very long time, and I’d even venture to say it was more delicious than similar salads I’ve eaten at restaurants. This recipe for roasted butternut, feta and baby spinach salad is adapted from Gina’s skinny recipes.
- 1 large butternut, peeled and diced
- 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp golden syrup / honey
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar / white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp minced baby green onion
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
- 1/4 cup raw chopped almonds
- 12 fresh cherries, quartered and pitted
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- In a large bowl, toss the butternut with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon syrup, salt to taste and fresh ground pepper.
- Place on a baking sheet and roast in the centre of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until tender, turning half way.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile combine the vinegar, onion, 1 tablespoon syrup, mustard, oil, pinch of salt and black pepper to make the vinaigrette.
- Toast the almonds in a pan on medium heat, being careful not to burn them
- Divide the spinach on 4 plates and top each salad with the roasted butternut, cherries, crumbled feta cheese and the toasted almonds.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over each salad and serve immediately.
This salad can be served as a main meal, as we did, or a side salad alongside a main.
Nico was out working late the other night, so I decided to experiment with some ingredients that were about to get up and walk out of the fridge by themselves. As appetizing as that sounds, I can’t say that my dinner was delicious. Yes, it provided nourishment and didn’t taste too bad… but delicious it was not. So I’m not going to give you the recipe, believe me if you had to taste it you’d thank me for that.
Here’s a peak at what it looked like:
Mmmmm… looks yummy.
Whilst this was a vegetarian dish I did add some smoked paprika to give a meaty flavour. For some reason though this didn’t really work and the 1/2 teaspoon paprika seemed to have dissipated by the time the sauce had finished cooking. It had disappeared even further by lunchtime the following day. I have no idea why…
My lessons learnt are to plan the meal rather than just plonking ingredients into the pot randomly, canned garden peas may seem like a good idea at the time, and to remember a bit of lemon juice next time.
We got to try out that salad and salad dressing I had been dreaming about tonight, it was gorgeous. And a good thing too because the chicken espetada turned out to be off, something we only realised once we had braai’ed it and were doing a quick taste check to see that it was done. The salad on its own was quite satisfying and very healthy.
(Use quantities as required for the number of servings to be made)
Fresh mint leaves
Dried mixed herbs
Preheat the grill on your oven.
Cook the butternut in the microwave for 6min (assuming 800W microwave).
Layout the butternut on a baking tray in a single layer.
Drizzle the butternut with olive oil and season with ground salt and pepper.
Pop the butternut under the grill for about 15min until golden, turning once to evenly grill.
Remove the butternut from the oven once done and allow to cool.
In a large salad dish or small single-serving dish(es) layer the rest of the salad ingredients. The orange should be peeled and the segments separated. Either add the segments as they are or cut into chunks width-ways.
Toast the walnuts (any nuts may be substituted, even pumpkin seeds may be used) in a pan on a high stove setting. Watch them carefully as nuts burn easily due to their high oil content. (Ask me, I’m the woman who created an oven fire when trying to toast cashews, having carefully chopped them by hand not a moment before). Allow the nuts to cool.
Add the butternut once cooled.
Add the nuts once cooled.
To make the salad dressing combine the juice of an orange with a dash of olive oil (how much is really up to personal preference, but the oil shouldn’t be more than 1/3 of the orange juice), a pinch or two of the mixed herbs, a pinch of salt and about 2 teaspons sugar, to taste. Add the leaves from some fresh thyme straight off the stalk (thyme has such tiny leaves it would be a waste of time to try to chop them up). Give the dressing a good shake to dissolve the salt and sugar and to combine the oil and juice. Taste it and add whatever you feel is missing – I have been known to even add water to a dressing when I thought it was too thick and strong.
Just before serving drizzle the dressing over the salad.
Voila! A healthy meal which satisfies all of the senses…