Dinner Tonight: Harvest Salad

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butternut-squashFall is officially here. Which means pumpkins, squash and other seasonal gourds are in abundance. My favorite is the butternut squash. Like its name suggests, it has a creamy, nutty flavor. This salad combines butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, collards and hemp hearts for a hearty fall recipe that can be served as a side or on its own.

Not only is butternut squash tasty, it is also healthy, with plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and manganese. Its bright orange hue also signals high levels of beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps ward off diseases while supporting a healthy immune system and glowing skin.

Pomegranates are a superfood and studies have shown positive effects in preventing tumor growth, as well cutting down the risk of breast cancer. Antioxidants in pomegranates can also help to reduce the effects of aging, lower cholesterol, and prevent heart disease.

Collard greens offer an ample supply of folate, as well as vitamins A, C and K.

Hemp hearts are high in tocopherols and tocotrienols (vitamin E). This means that they are a great source of antioxidants, and they also have a perfect balance of omega 6 and omega 3.

This salad takes a little bit of time, but the results are worth it.

Harvest Salad

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 collard leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup  pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled goats’ feta (optional)

Dressing

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cut butternut squash into 1/2 in chunks and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper and spread cubes out in single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or just until tender. Squash should be slightly firm, not mushy. Let cool.

Remove center ribs from collards and cut the leaves in half lengthwise, then thinly slice into 1/4″ ribbons. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add collards and stir. Once the water starts to boil, strain the collards and plunge them into a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Strain again and spread on a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel and blot dry. Set aside.

Whisk dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add collards and butternut cubes to dressing and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, hemp hearts and cilantro. Gently toss a couple of times to lightly distribute. Add salt and pepper to taste, if you wish. Sprinkle with feta.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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September 2015
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