Since the weather has gotten chilly, we've been eating a lot of hearty meals. Lots of comfort food, like pot pie, oven roasts and beef stew, along with stick-to-your-ribs, high-carb sides like biscuits and egg noodles. Delicious and filling - just the thing to warm our bellies on these cold nights.
For the past couple of days, however, I've been feeling like I'm missing something. Although I'm not quite ready to abandon the fall flavors that go along with the season, I've been feeling a little craving for something fresh, and light. Today, as I flipped through the pages of a cookbook I picked from the library (Good Food by Jamie Deen), I found my answer - Fall Harvest Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. It's made with fresh greens, roasted butternut squash, and topped with a maple vinaigrette. Yum!
So I didn't make the recipe exactly as it is written, but I did use it for inspiration. I adapted the recipe to suit my budget, and my family's tastes. While Jamie's recipe calls for pistachios, I substituted much more affordable pecans. The original recipe also includes grapes, but I have a giant bag of dried cranberries in my pantry (thanks Costco!), so that's what I used. Also, I am a fan of Trader Joe's turkey bacon, and I couldn't resist topping the salad with some bacon goodness. For greens, I just used tons of baby lettuces (a mere $2 at Aldi). Actually, lettuce is a cool-weather crop, so it's not completely un-seasonal. If you want to really stick to the fall theme, though, you can use some baby kale - a heartier cool-weather green.
This makes a really big salad. It's easily enough to feed 4-6 people as a meal, or 8 as a side salad. We ate ours alongside rosemary grilled chicken.
Recipe - adapted from Jamie Deen's Good Food
For the Salad
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 cups mixed greens (lettuce, spinach, and/or kale)
8 ounces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
For the Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet, drizzle the butternut squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss it all together and roast for 35-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and a little bit caramelized. Give the squash a flip halfway through the cooking time, to give it a chance to brown on all sides. Allow to cool.
2. Lay the greens out on a big platter, and top with the roasted squash. Sprinkle the cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese over the top.
3. In a mason jar or measuring cup, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dress the whole salad with the vinaigrette, or serve at the table alongside the salad.
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