Sunday, 11 March 2012

Roasted squash and pomegranate salad with orange-miso dressing

The busier I get, the worse my eating habits become and the more non-existent physical activity becomes in my life, the more I crave salads. I crave heaping piles of fresh salad greens tossed in tangy and sweet dressings and topped with a mix of grilled vegetables, fruit, avocado and a flavourful cheese. Salads are so easy to make, you always feel great after eating them, and there are so many combinations waiting to be explored that I just do not understand why I do not make more salads.

As an inspiration to change I have vowed to make a different salad, every day for the next seven days. I have already loaded up my fridge vegetable drawers, my counter top produce bowl is overflowing and my recipe notebook is abound with ideas. I am also going to take this opportunity to try out some new salad dressings rather than sticking with my favourite balsamic dressing. 

For me, a perfect salad has all of the elements of being fresh, having a sweet component, a crunchy element, a grilled or other warm ingredient, a filling ingredient and something creamy like cheese and avocado (or both).

Today I am starting with a salad that I actually made several weeks ago except that I burnt the squash. I finally took the time to try it out again today and was very happy with the final result. Pomegranate seeds and walnuts offer crunch, pomegranate and orange juice add sweetness, the roasted squash is savoury, warm and filling and mint adds a nice pop to the overall dish. Goat cheese and avocado are two go-to ingredients for all of my salads and are also used here. 

For (most of) the next six salads I will try to use different ingredients and avoid relying heavily on avocado and goat cheese to make everything delicious. But part of my plan is also to overlap the use of ingredients. I like to use ingredients across multiple dishes, employing them in different combinations to ensure that things in my fridge do not go to waste.

Seven salads - Day 1
Roasted squash and pomegranate salad with orange-miso dressing
Winter seasonal: pomegranate seeds and butternut squash

Ingredients (enough for 4 small salads or 2 large salads)
1/2 of a small butternut squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp miso
1 tbsp honey
Sea salt
Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Soft goat cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh mint
Mixed salad greens

1 - Preheat oven to 350F.
2 - Peel squash and slice into thin half moon slices.
3 - Make dressing by whisking together olive oil, orange juice, white wine vinegar, miso paste, honey and about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp sea salt.
4 - Toss the squash in a few spoonfuls of dressing. Then spread out squash on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
5 - Bake squash slices about 20 - 30 minutes, or until tender and browned, flipping once half way through cooking.
6 - Meanwhile, prepare pomegranate seeds by removing rinds and cut avocado into cubes.
7 - Toss salad greens in dressing (you will likely have a lot of dressing left over) and place on serving plate.
8 - Top greens with squash, pomegranate seeds, avocado, walnuts, a small sprinkle of mint and crumbled goat cheese.

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