Today’s the day: I’m sharing this awesome butternut squash salad with y’all. Woot!
For some reason, I’m particularly excited about today being Friday. This was the first “normal” week after the Thanksgiving holiday, and I felt a little relieved to be back into my normal routine. So it went pretty quickly and painlessly… for a few days.
Suddenly, I found myself wishing I could celebrate the holiday all over again, so I could work 3-hour days, spend some time with family, and take more naps.
Anybody with me on this one?
So, due to the fact that I’ve been struggling through the second half of this week, I haven’t been cooking up many new recipes. I did make my ramen-style noodle bowls and my vegetarian pad thai, though, so that was fun.
It’s pretty rare that I get to cook straight from a recipe, much less my own recipe, so that was kind of neat. It’s good for me to do every now and then so I can make sure I’m actually writing recipes that make sense!
So, where did this recipe come from?
Well, I’ve been saving it for you!
I made this butternut squash and beet salad for the first time a few weeks ago, when my good friend Kathryn was in town. It was just before Turkey Day, and with all the cookies, pies, and sticky buns going on, it didn’t quite fit. So, I decided to save it just a bit, for a day when a healthy roasted butternut squash and beet salad would actually sound good.
The night we made this, we took it up to another friend’s house for dinner, and there was barely enough to go around with the five of us there. I thought it was pretty fantastic. And it disappeared off all the plates, so I took that as a good sign.
When you make it yourself, you can serve it as a main dish, or a side with your favorite protein. It only takes as long to make as you need to cut and roast the squash, so about 45 minutes. Not bad!
The salad has a base of Israeli couscous and arugula. You can also use whole wheat couscous for a healthier base. If you’re trying to avoid wheat products, I bet it would be great over a bed of wild rice, too. It’s topped with sunflower seeds, pomegranate arils, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Nommm.
To give the dressing a bit of heat, I’m a fan of Head Ancho Artisan Vinegar from Chaparral Gardens, here on the Central Coast of California. It’s made with a combination of organic ancho, habanero, and bell peppers that are just the thing to add a touch of zing to the mix. Plain apple cider vinegar makes a delicious substitute; feel free to add a dash of ancho and a smidgen of cayenne to spice things up a bit, if you like.
I think this is best served cool or at room temperature, but if you are in a rush it would still be delicious served warm. In any case, I recommend heating the beets up a bit. Any way you serve this delicious vegan dish, it’ll be great!Print
This butternut and beet salad with Israeli couscous and pomegranate is the perfect healthy dish for fall and winter. It’s full of good-for-you greens and antioxidants, and it tastes amazing!
For the Salad:
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 6 small roasted beets, cut into 1/2″ dice*
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
- 2 cups lightly packed arugula leaves
- Arils from 1/2 medium pomegranate*
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
For the Dressing:
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or spicy pepper vinegar (I like Head Ancho)
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the butternut squash in half horizontally (i.e. not through the stem). Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin, then cut off the stem and the bottom. Cut each half in half through the ends and scrape out the seeds with a large spoon.
- Cut the flesh of the squash into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss with the olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, then place on a baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, tossing once, until easily pierced with a fork and lightly browned.
- Cook the couscous according to package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water if you plan to serve this dish cold.
- To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking constantly to create an emulsion.
- To assemble, place the couscous in the bottom of a large serving bowl and mix in the arugula. Top with the roasted butternut squash and the beets, then with the pomegranate arils and sunflower seeds.
- If serving cold, add half the dressing, then refrigerate. Add the remainder of the dressing just before serving. If serving warm, add all the dressing at once and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
I used pre-cooked beets found in the vegetable area of my local supermarket. If you want to use uncooked beets, roast them in a Dutch oven at 400°F for 1 hour, then peel and chop.
You can buy ready-to-eat pomegranate seeds if you don’t want to de-seed one yourself. I would use about 1/2 cup. If you’re looking for another shortcut, pre-cut butternut squash may be available at your local supermarket as well.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop, Baking
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: butternut squash, Israeli couscous, vegetarian, beet
What’s your favorite way to get your nutrients in during the fall and winter and to keep the pounds off? Let us know in the comments section below and please rate this recipe!
And if this recipe trips your trigger, then these would also tickle your tummy:
- Butternut Squash and Kale Pasta Salad
- Coconut Ginger Roasted Kale with Beets, Farro, and Goat Cheese
- Couscous with Eggplant, Zucchini and Shrimp
- Vegetable Couscous with Citrus Vinaigrette
Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 25th 2016. Last updated: October 18, 2021 at 15:02 pm.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Raquel Smith
Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).