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Butternut squash is endlessly versatile and can be used to make everything from creamy soups and healthy entrees to breads and desserts. Many cooks don’t realize that it can also be used in salads. The squash’s subtle flavor blends well with a wide range of other salad ingredients. The many types of butternut salad include those with a pasta, grains, or greens foundation that features fruit, nuts, curry, and many other flavor combinations.
A simple butternut salad that can be served at room temperature or chilled begins with oven-roasted squash. Spinach, arugula, or other leafy greens along with tomato, cucumber, and a vinaigrette dressing make a quick lunch or side salad. It’s easy to dress this one up, though, with dried cranberries or golden raisins and a handful of sliced almonds.
Other additions to a green butternut salad are limited only by what’s available and the cook’s imagination. Protein in the form of chicken or sliced steak turns this light salad into a heartier dinner plate. Chickpeas or navy or black beans will also add both heft and protein. Nonmeat eaters can opt for tofu or tempeh.
A yummy, hot butternut salad is created by lightly wilting spinach with a hot bacon dressing. Diced cubes of golden yellow squash add a splash of color and rich flavor. Roasted grape tomatoes are wonderful with this salad as well.
Butternut squash has a mellow, slightly sweet taste, especially if it’s oven roasted with onion and garlic. Pasta salad fans can create a brilliant butternut salad using orecchiette or campanelle pasta as a base. These pasta shapes create crevices or cups for the bits of squash to hide. A little prosciutto and some salt-cured black olives add depth. Feta cheese, olive oil, and some roughly chopped fresh herbs complete this salad.
Beets and butternut squash are longtime companions in many recipe books, and they make perfect salad mates as well. A very simple salad that is beautiful enough for the cover of a magazine requires very few ingredients. Sliced, cold-roasted beets and diced butternut squash nestled on arugula form the base. Then, cooks scatter goat cheese across the top. The perfect dressing for this butternut salad combines olive or canola oil flavored with orange juice and a drop or two of brown sugar.
An elegant squash salad that is the perfect accompaniment for grilled pork or beef includes blue cheese, the bright red ruby seeds of a pomegranate, and pine nuts. A dressing made with fig vinegar goes well with this salad. A bed of romaine topped with torn basil leaves adds crunch.
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