Friday, October 28, 2022

Fall Flavors: Harvest Spinach Salad

My Harvest Spinach Salad is loaded with fall favorites like butternut squash, chopped apples, pecans, cranberries and couscous.  It's the perfect side salad this fall.

Harvest Spinach Salad

I have the perfect side salad that's easy to make and has all the fall flavors.  It has no fuss ingredients you crave:  chopped apples, pecans, dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, couscous, and spinach.  Plus it's all doused with with an apple cider vinaigrette.  

Here are some occasions that this salad would be perfect for:

  • Side Salad with weekday dinners
  • fall picnic
  • entertaining friends
  • Friendsgiving 
  • Thanksgiving 

There is a little prep work to roast the butternut squash and cooking the couscous,  however, you can use leftovers if you have them, or cook them on the weekend and store them until ready to use during the week.  The salad has it all going on, flavors, crunch, savory, and sweet.  This is one heck of a salad!

What Ingredients do I need?

Butternut squash 
Baby spinach

Nuts and Dried Fruit
Dried Cranberries

Israeli couscous

Pantry Items
Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dijon Mustard
Garlic cloves

Substitutions and Variations

  • Change up the salad greens:  Use any dark leafy green such as kale, red leaf lettuce, arugula, or swiss chard
  • Try a different squash: Use roasted acorn or kabocha squash. Or go with roasted sweet potatoes
  • Change up the fruit:  Pears would be a great substitute
  • Any nut will work:  Think pepitas or pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds - or go nut free
  • Change up the dried fruit:  go with raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries, or even apricots
  • Try a different grain:  bulgur, farro, or quinoa would all be great choices

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Butternut squash can be bought pre-cut in to cubes in the produce section
  • Apples come in many varieties:  try Gala, Jazz, or Golden Delicious
  • Israeli couscous aka pearl couscous are the larger balls of semolina.  Moroccan and North African dishes contain the more popular small couscous.  This is actually a pasta and not a grain. 
  • Make Ahead:  batch cook your couscous and roast your butternut squash on the weekend and then refrigerate until you make the salad during the week.

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Harvest Spinach Salad

serves 2

4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions (1/2 cup dry couscous)
1 - 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
1/3 cup pecans
3 Tablespoons dried cranberries

1/4 olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic, minced
pinch of salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Add your chopped and cubed butternut squash to a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil.  Bake about 30 minutes until golden brown and soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile cook your Israeli couscous according to the package directions in a pot on the stove.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Make dressing:  in a small bowl or mason jar add all the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk or shake vigoursly until well combined.

To assemble salad:  In a medium bowl add spinach, apple, butternut squash, couscous, pecans, and cranberries.  Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to coat.  Serve.

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