Caramelized squash salad with pistachios and goat cheese

Low-fat comfort food for fall

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It's tempting to fill up on fattening foods during the fall, but comfort food doesn't have to mean calorie-laden. This vegetarian salad is a great side for a low-cal soup or a delicious meal all by itself.

As fancy as it sounds, this caramelized squash salad recipe is easy and, except for the time you wait for the squash, quick. You can get the whole thing on the plate in just over half an hour!

Caramelized squash salad with pistachios and goat cheese recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled and sliced thin
  • High-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 cups any lettuce or salad mix, hand torn
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, roasted and salted
  • 3-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the squash slices with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Use your hands to mix for the best results. Spread the coated squash onto a foil-lined, greased sheet pan in a single layer. Roast the squash in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
  3. Add the cranberries to the sheet and roast an additional 5 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the apple cider or juice, vinegar and shallots or red onion in a small saucepan. Place it on the stove and bring it to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup (about 6 to 8 minutes). Remove it from the heat and vigorously whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup of olive oil (add it slowly!), 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the roasted squash and cranberries, salad greens, roasted pistachios and goat cheese with just enough dressing to coat it well.
  6. Serve with extra dressing, goat cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

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Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.