This is one of the most beautiful and quintessential fall salads. It includes one of my favorite fall ingredients, organic butternut squash provided by Goodness Greeness. For those of you that haven’t been tuned in to FML for the past couple of months I am obsessed with organics. The kinder we are to our bodies the better we feel. Hence why I use organics. (So maybe I was a tree hugger in my past life.) Goodness Greeness has been a distributor of organic produce since 1991, so they know a thing or two. So when I received this donated squash I knew my Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Salad would be perfect.
What differentiates this salad from other roasted butternut squash salads is the spice mixture I rub all over the squash. It’s slightly spicy, sweet and smoky and takes the salad to a whole different level. It goes from average autumn-time salad to the most epic, butternut squash ever. You get the point.
So I rub the squash down with aleppo pepper, Hungarian hot paprika, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and pepper. A small note about aleppo pepper. It is a chili pepper that comes from Turkey (named after the town of Aleppo). It’s slightly smoky and spicy with fruity undertones. (Wait a minute; are we talking about chili pepper or wine?) Aleppo pepper may be more on the difficult side to hunt down but I encourage you to buy it. Once you have it you’ll be finding yourself sprinkling it on everything. It’s great with eggs, fresh mozzarella, pizza, steak, chicken, shrimp, etc.
If you don’t want to buy aleppo pepper, it’s no biggie. I won’t be that mad. Just omit it. However, Hungarian hot paprika is easier to find and it can’t really be replaced. You, of course, could just use some regular ole paprika but it just won’t be the same. I also find myself only using Hungarian hot paprika whenever a recipe calls for paprika. I just like to spice it up! (Get it? Oh jeez…I didn’t think my jokes could get worse).
So we have the roasted butternut squash and then the rest of the recipe is essentially just assembly. I add pomegranate seeds for crunch, sweetness and acidity. Goat cheese is creamy and tangy and is such a classic pairing with butternut squash. You could use any greens you prefer, swap in curly kale, lacinato kale, spinach, watercress, arugula, etc. It’s up to you.
The last magic ingredient is balsamic vinegar by Villa Manodori. This particular vinegar I use is unlike anything you’ve had before. It’s made by Chef Massismo Bottura (owner of three-star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy—home to balsamic vinegar). It’s sweet, rich and thick and made in the “tradizionale” style, which means it’s aged for at least 12 years. It’s better than any of that balsamic “glaze” or “reduction” that you’ll find in a grocery store. Please buy this. Pretty please. It will be life changing.
I hope the one thing to take-away from this recipe and many of the recipes you’ll find on Fork My Life is it’s all about the quality of ingredients you use. This salad only has 5 ingredients (spices excluded) but I use the best organic squash I can find, the most local and freshest goat cheese in the store and real tradizionale balsamico from Italy. That’s why there only has to be a few ingredients and your food can be so simple. Use the best and you can use less. *I am definitely going to trademark that saying*
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp aleppo pepper
- 2 tsp Hungarian hot paprika
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 8 cups mixed baby greens
- 2-3 tbsp balsamico tradizionale (balsamic vinegar) preferably Villa Manodori
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut the bottom part of the butternut squash from the long neck. Save the round bottom of the squash for another use.
- Peel the long neck of the squash and dice into small pieces.
- Place diced squash in a large mixing bowl and add olive oil.
- Next add the cinnamon, aleppo pepper, Hungarian hot paprika, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the butternut squash and the spices until thoroughly combine and the squash is evenly coated.
- Place diced squash on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and tender. Make sure halfway through the cooking process you check on the squash and turn the pieces for even cooking.
- Once the squash is cooked through allow it cool completely.
- Divide the mixed green onto 4 plates. Evenly distribute the pomegranate seeds (2 tbsp per salad), goat cheese (1/2 oz per salad) and roasted butternut squash. Drizzle each salad with ½ tbsp of balsamic vinegar.
- Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.