With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away now, I’m already beginning to feel my mouth starting to water at the thought of all of the delicious and rich food that will be shared among family members. And since there are a lot of members to my husband’s side of the family, which we share this special holiday of gratitude with, an email list gets sent out way in advance of the actual day so that each of us can “sign up” for what food item we will be bringing with us, so that nothing will get left out or forgotten, heaven forbid. And while we’re all excited about the mashed potatoes, the cranberries, the turkey, the stuffing, the pies and the green beans, I’m a firm believer that there also needs to be at least a tiny sliver-of-a-space on the table reserved for…greens. A succulent, tangy, bright and fresh salad to be exact. And boy do I have a festive-looking one for you to bring along this year.
As delicious and wonderful as all the comforting fix-ins bathed in flowing gravy are when it comes to a holiday spread, I’m always looking for a little something “fresh and clean”, something green, to add to my ginourmous platter of food to help cut the richness in between bites. Salads are so very versatile, and the beautiful thing about them is that they can be made in an elegant and unique way, using various greens as the base, with other seasonal add-ins for color. Spicy greens are my favorite type of greens, with wild arugula, kale and Swiss chard at the top of my list. And what’s great about them is that though they are a heartier variety of green, when very thinly shredded, or chopped into very small pieces, they hold up brilliantly when more earthy and textured tid-bits are added in. Diced, roasted butternut squash is vibrantly orange, and brings out the changing colors of this brilliant time of year; and dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds provide the tart sweetness and the warm, nutty-ness, respectively. I love the full flavors and complex textures that a Sweet & Savory Harvest Salad brings to a Thanksgiving table, and when well-dressed in a bright and tangy Cranberry-Herb Vinaigrette, it can be that little healthful and light pop of color that ties all of the tastes of the holiday together easily and quite elegantly.
So if you’re anything like me when it comes to craving at least a little taste of “green” in the sea of richness that we’re all about to embark on very shortly, then this Sweet & Savory Harvest Salad is a delicious and eye-popping pick for you to try. Mildly spicy, slightly sweet and a touch savory, this pretty little festive offering of greens will be perfectly at home alongside all of the other scrumptious marvels at the dining table this year, and will provide just enough of a deliciously tangy “palette-cleansing” in between bites to tie everything together in prefect harmony.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Sweet & Savory Harvest Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Spicy Greens, Sweet Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds in a Cranberry-Herb Vinaigrette
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• 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• 3 cups, packed, finely chopped kale (ribs removed)
• 2 ½ cups, packed, wild arugula greens
• 2 cups, packed, Swiss chard, finely chopped (ribs removed)
• ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted
• ¼ sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
• ¼ cup dried cranberries
• Cranberry-Herb Vinaigrette (recipe below)
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Toss the cubed butternut squash with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and turn it out onto the baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until tender; allow to cool completely.
-In a large bowl, add the kale, arugula greens and Swiss chard, plus the cooled, roasted butternut squash, the pumpkin seeds, the sunflower seeds and the cranberries; drizzle over enough of the Cranberry-Herb Vinaigrette to coat the greens well, add another sprinkle of salt and pepper, and toss to coat well; serve fresh.
¼ cup cranberry juice (100% juice, not from concentrate)
2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
-Place all ingredients through the black pepper into the bowl of a food processor, and process the ingredients until well processed; with the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified and well-blended; keep covered in fridge until ready to use.