Food, Salads, Vegetarian

Warm Roasted Squash Salad With Red Currants + Maple Tahini Dressing

Hi! Wow. It’s been a while, and there are no words that can express how good it feels to be back into the swing of things. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in my adult life it’s this: I’m a routine gal, and I don’t like to be out of my element for longer than a week — even if for vacation. In fact, I’d been dreaming about and planning for this recipe since before even coming home. I missed this space.

Though things didn’t go exactly as intended, and much like those little ruby currants pictured above, I’m a bit sour.

I had big plans for this salad, which was supposed to be a winter salad because cooking seasonally is my jam. Sadly, all three markets I hit earlier this week were out of pomegranates. I know that pomegranate seeds trend in the food world this time of year, but I didn’t realize everyone was paying attention. I suppose that’s a good sign, but it didn’t work in my favor.

Crappy luck, I shake my fist at you.

On the plus side, I did happen to stumble upon some stunning red currants from Chili, and they offered up the same pop of color and burst of tartness that pomegranate seeds would have brought to the bowl. When life hands you red currants…

¯_(ツ)_/¯

Like everyone else who overate and tossed back a cocktail too many this holiday season, I’m in total eat healthy mode. Further to that, like anyone else who overthought and tossed away a healthy work/life balance this year, I’m in total live healthy mode as well.

Some folks seem to think that hitting the reset button at the beginning of a new year is cliché. In such instances, I like to recite one of my favorite Amy Poehler-isms to myself: good for you, not for me.

For me, the end of any time frame is a good time to look back and reflect on how I can do better moving forward. Everyone likes to joke about how craptastic 2016 was since the universe basically collapsed after David Bowie peaced out. On a personal level, I think I could have done better — but as far as life + work experience goes, I wouldn’t trade my 2016 for anything; our successes come from our failures. I know it’s still early — like, we’re only five days in early — but 2017 has already proven that I’ve learned from last year, and that a healthy work/life balance is attainable. Yesterday, on top of finalizing some freelance work, I developed a new recipe, photographed it, went for a run, took a hot shower, painted my toe nails (what!), made my husband his favorite dish AND put a dent in the book I’m currently reading. Most of that probably sounds irrelevant and trivial, but it’s not. Self-care and “me time” is important — especially when you’re self-employed, don’t have set hours and are kind of a jerk boss to yourself. I didn’t give myself enough of a break last year and, as a result, I drained myself; I extinguished my own flame. Time management+ that hard-to-obtain work/life balance thing is everything.

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Eating well does wonders for how you feel, that’s no secret. I hope more people I know, who continuously gripe about their bad eating, can rise into some positive habits. In my case, I enjoy healthy eats regularly, but this year I’d like to concentrate on planning better and wasting less. I have a real bad habit of getting over-excited about produce, buying all of it, and then never using it all in good time.

There are too many pretty vegetables, friends.

This salad eats like a meal, so it’s optimal for both lunch and dinner! The amount of toppings you use is also flexible, obviously, because it’s salad. If you want more of something, use more of that thing.

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Warm Roasted Squash Salad With Red Currants + Maple Tahini Dressing

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author Killing Thyme

Ingredients

Squash:

  • pieces Acorn Squash You will have leftovers, so you can have several of these salads throughout the week!, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-size
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Salad:

  • 2 cups of baby spinach and arugula mixed or just baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup microgreens
  • 1 TBSP sliced or minced shallot
  • 2 TBSP fresh red currants or pomegranate seeds
  • 1 TBSP raw pepitas
  • 1/4 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 TBSP crumbled feta

Maple Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 1 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 2-4 TBSP hot water for thinning

Instructions

Squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the cubed squash in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup, chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  4. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  5. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula halfway through, until the squash is tender and golden brown.
  6. Remove and set aside.

Maple Tahini Dressing:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and well mixed. Add water, bit by bit, until you reach the consistency you prefer.

Salad:

  1. In a large bowl, toss the baby spinach and arugula, microgreens, shallot, red currants and pepitas.
  2. Top with 1 cup of warm roasted squash, some feta cheese, and then drizzle with Maple Tahini Dressing. If you have any leftover, place it in a sealed container and save for another salad that week.
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12 Comments

  • Reply Cassie | Crumb Kitchen January 8, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I can’t count the number of times I roll up to the grocery store and blink repeatedly as a teenage employee tells me they’re out of the most basic grocery store food. Ugh x1000, especially when your heart is set on making a recipe with that ingredient! But honestly, you made this one look AMAZING and unique too, as not many people are featuring red currants in their dishes. Yum.

    While 2016 did indeed suck in many ways, I love your philosophy and positivity! Gotta make Bowie proud from up in musician heaven. 😉

  • Reply Justine January 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I love absolutely everything about the colourful salad, Dana! Roasted squash in salads is bomb, especially in the winter (I added some to my last salad recipe, too!). It really works to make the salad ‘eat like a meal’, as you say. 😉 I also LOVE tahini based dressings — maple syrup and citrus seem to balance the bitterness that tahini can sometimes bring. It sounds like a gorgeous medley of flavours! And funny — we have tons of pomegranates around here, but I’ve NEVER seen red currants in the winter. This recipe makes me want to go hunt for some! Pinning this for red currant inspiration. 😉 Hope you’re staying cozy in the snow — it’s a chilly one here in Calgary and I’m organizing / purging the kitchen today (there may or may not be wine involved!).

  • Reply Christina | Christina's Cucina January 8, 2017 at 1:43 am

    What a stunning salad! I LOVE redcurrants! Too bad they’re so hard to find in the US 🙁

    • Reply Killing Thyme January 8, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Thanks, Christina! They really are delicious. I was so excited to see them in the produce section that I just had to snag them.

  • Reply Markus Mueller January 7, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I love using berries in salads..though I must admit that currents have never made the list! Why im not sure since my parents have such an abundance that I could literally fill my freezer with them. It may be because the birds get to them so quickly. Once they are back in season here in the Maritimes i’ll have to start using them more. And Sean is right, you do have a knack for making salads look so delicious you just want to eat them right there!

    • Reply Killing Thyme January 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      I’m with you, Markus! Berries, or any fruit, mixed into a salad with something crunchy + nutty, along with a soft + tangy cheese and shallots or red onion — that’s my go-to formula right there.
      And thank you so much! Salads give us so many pretty ingredients to work with, so I try to take advantage of it, haha.

  • Reply Ayngelina Brogan January 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I have a new jar of tahini in my cupboard right now and this looks like a great reason to open it.

    • Reply Killing Thyme January 7, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Mmmm, yes! This and, of course, homemade hummus (I’m obsessed).

  • Reply Sean January 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Dana, you’ve got a real talent for salads. That might sound like a strange compliment, so let me clarify – salads aren’t the easiest food in the world to give wow-factor too, but you always manage to assemble these greens and veggies in such a way that I want to dig right in. The currants are pretty darned cute, so I don’t blame you for jumping on them. As much as we both push eating locally and seasonally, sometimes you want a hit of bright fruit flavour in the winter. I love the dressing too – I’ve never made a tahini-based dressing, but I really like the idea of that sesame flavour alongside the maple.

    Here’s to good food, and hitting the ground running in 2017!

    • Reply Killing Thyme January 7, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Why thank you, buddyguy! That’s a strange compliment I’ll gladly accept.

      I think you’d really dig tahini-based dressings! This was my first, and though it was tough for me to spare some of my sacred tahini (gotta make sure I can make my weekly hummus!), it was totally worth it. I look forward to trying different variations.

      Looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings us 🙂

  • Reply Alexandra | Occasionally Eggs January 6, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Yum! Squash in salad is the best, and this looks really light and fresh despite the cold weather outside. I think the creamier dressing makes it cozy enough for winter without being too heavy!

    • Reply Killing Thyme January 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks, Alexandra! I was thinking the same. Crisp + fresh with a hit of cozy + creamy.

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