Monday, January 6, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Chicken and Goat Cheese

A while back I picked up a killer salad at Trader Joe's. I liked it so much, I thought I'd try to replicate it at home. And since it's the New Year—with the overindulgence of the holidays in the past—now seemed like the appropriate time.

Or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to chase my dinner with an extra-large ice cream sundae. Decide for yourself.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Goat Cheese and Salad
Serves: 2 (generously) as a main dish
Important Note: You will only need about a quarter of the roasted butternut squash for this salad. Meaning this is perfect leftover food! Make butternut squash on day 1 and serve it with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. On day 2, make this delicious salad to use up both the chicken and the squash. Genius.

Roasted Butternut Squash:
1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper

6 cups torn lettuce
2/3 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup roasted butternut squash
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pierce squash with a knife in a few places. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to soften the squash and make it easier to cut. When the squash is cool enough to handle, peel it, cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds. Then cut the squash into 1/2" cubes. Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake squash in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until tender and golden brown, stirring halfway through so it cooks evenly. Once the squash is cooked, set it aside until you're ready to serve the salad. It's delicious either warm or cold.

To make the dressing, combine vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, mustard, and maple syrup in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Evenly divide lettuce, chicken, pecans, roasted squash, goat cheese, and cranberries between two plates. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

*If you prefer a less tangy vinaigrette, increase the amount of olive oil to 3 tablespoons.

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