A Recipe That Embodies The Alchemy of Mediterranean Soil, Sun & Sea
This spiced butternut squash salad recipe brings together some of my favorite elements of Mediterranean based cuisines: fragrant spices, tart & fresh Chèvre, buttery pine nuts and nutty garbanzo beans. Drizzled with a simple vinaigrette, it all comes together for a heavenly salad that’s as rich in flavor as it is diverse in nutrients.
The whole meal should take just over an hour to prepare. You’ll have enough energy to enjoy this bounty of goodness and your guests will be thoroughly impressed.
Don’t let the spices intimidate you
Before you read on, don’t be scared by the list of ingredients! This is a very simple salad that calls for only a couple basic foods. It’s just the spices that make the shopping list look a little intimidating.
If you feel overwhelmed by the Lebanese 7 spice mix, just toss the squash with some cumin, a dash of cinnamon, black pepper and Himalayan Sea Salt, and call it a day. You could even get away with salt and pepper if that means that you’ll make the salad.
The nutrition profile of this dish includes a laundry list of vitamins and minerals, all enhanced by the rich combination of fats and oils. Even if you choose to skip the goat cheese, the pine nuts and olive oil supply you with necessary cofactors to help assimilate all the nutrients in the squash, chickpeas and spinach.
Winter squash is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including Omega-3’s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)! It’s also rich in vitamin A and C, and fiber.
Spinach is the one of the best sources of chlorophyll! It’s very high in magnesium, iron, and vitamin E, rich in potassium, calcium, vitamins B2 and B6, as well as folate and vitamin K, amongst myriad other nutrients.
If you do dairy, and are lucky enough to enjoy Chèvre with this salad, you’ll benefit from the high quality protein, amino acids, omega-3’s, metabolism boosting CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), other vitamins and minerals, and most importantly a dose of saturated fat that will help in assimilating all the goodies in the other components of this meal.
Pair these veggies and goat cheese with the monounsaturated fat in pine nuts full of protein, iron and other minerals and vitamins along with a wealth of antioxidants like lutein, together with the monounsaturated fat in pure extra virgin olive oil which also has many anti-aging, antimicrobial and antiviral benefits – and what you have is an incredibly nutritious meal that boosts energy, metabolism and supports healthy bones, vision, heart and brain function.
You’ll do even better if you serve this salad with side of lamb, goat or beef!
This is a very simple dish and most of my recommendations are listed in the below shopping list.
If it’s overwhelming, keep in mind that you don’t have to make the Lebanese spice mix to enjoy this salad. Like I said above, you could get away with salt and pepper, or add some ground cumin and cinnamon, and you’ll be good!
If Butternut isn’t available, you can use most any other squash. Try it with Acorn or Delicatta – both of which don’t need to be peeled!
One thing I’d highlight is to be careful not to burn your pine nuts! If you choose to toast them, use a dry pan and keep an eye on them for the full 2-3 minute toasting time.
The only other thing I want to be sure you take note of, is that high quality, pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil and excellent balsamic vinegar can make or brake this salad (as with any salad)!
If you don’t have a trusted EVOO source and you live in the USA, give Bariani Olive Oil a try! I promise you will be hooked and never go back. This, like shopping at the Farmers’ Market, is something I harp on in perpetuity. Forgive my insistence! It’s for your own good.
Get the full scoop on the Bariani family and why this is so important by reading my review of Bariani Artisanal Olive Oil.
Tools & Pantry Shopping List
You’ll need just a couple basic tools and have an opportunity to stock up on spices when making this fragrant salad. If you don’t have a great mortar and pestle or baking pan, or perhaps you’re looking for an upgrade, consider these:
- Arte Legno Medium Olive Wood Mortar and Pestle (The perfect mortar & pestle set! Made from branches of olive trees after annual pruning.)
- Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron 14-Inch Roasting Pan
- FSC Certified Unbleached Parchment Paper
- Spicely Organic Whole Nutmeg (all Spicely herbs + spices are Gluten Free, and all 7 spices are available on Amazon)
- Organic Pine Nuts
- Bariani California Olive Oil (The best EVOO you can get!)
- Bariani Balsamic Vinegar (Unlike any store bought Balsamic. Simply the best!)
For easy discounted Thrive Market shopping: