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Dress it up, dress it down. No matter what you do, this butternut squash salad can be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table or even double as a meal by simply adding some thinly sliced, grilled sirloin or any other protein.
Why We Love It
This butternut squash salad is full of seasonal ingredients highlighted by warming spices. It is so important to eat seasonally. It not only supports health but also likely means you’re eating locally, or at least regionally. Eating in this way is also better for the environment.
Let’s use the humble apple as an example. Sure, you can get an apple year-round but it’s important to consider the following questions:
- How far that apple had to travel to get to you?
- How long has it been since it was picked?
- How was it stored during transport or after for that matter?
Why are these questions so important? The short answer is health. The health of the environment and the health of the individual. Obviously the farther away any food has to travel to get to the consumer the more resources it’s going to take to get there, be that gasoline, packaging, cooling, the list can go on and on. These are all factors that the responsible consumer must consider when purchasing any food, not just apples.
Eat Seasonally for Health
Now let’s turn our attention to the health of the individual. NTI is a nutrition education school after all. The nutritional attributes of all fresh produce degrade from the moment of harvest. Sticking with the apple as a good example: The average apple that can be purchased in a supermarket has been stored for a full year before making it to the produce section. These are known as “birthday apples” in the industry.
The antioxidant activity in apples gradually drops off after three months in cold storage. After a full year in storage, they will have almost no antioxidants remaining. Not to mention the texture and flavor degrade over time as well (sorry chefs). Additionally, it matters at what stage the produce is harvested. So much of the produce that is destined to travel great distances to reach consumers is harvested when it is under-ripe to account for the ripening that will occur during transport. Again, antioxidants are most affected, reaching their peak when fruit (in these studies) are at their ripest.
The takeaway here: Eat seasonally, eat locally, eat deliciously. Make this butternut squash salad with local ingredients if at all possible. If you can’t grow your own food, support a farmer in your area. The USDA offers a Local Food Directory that you can use to find local farmer’s markets, CSA programs, and on-farm markets. See what foods are in season in your area by plugging your area into the Seasonal Food Guide.
Warm Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with Apples and Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Butternut Squash:
12 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch cayenne or ground white pepper
3 Tablespoons unsweetened apple juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 small shallot
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅓ cup unsweetened apple juice
⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons raw almond butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 red apples, diced
1 pear, diced
3 tablespoons red onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup parsley, rough chopped
6 leaves sage, chiffonade
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cups kale, sliced very thinly
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
To roast the butternut squash: Whisk together the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, cayenne, apple juice, and olive oil. Toss the diced squash with the mixture to coat evenly. Place the mixture on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast until caramelized but still firm when a fork is inserted, about 25-30 minutes.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend at high speed until combined.
While the squash is roasting, combine pumpkin seeds, apples, pear, onions, parsley, sage, spinach, and kale in a bowl.
Remove squash from oven and combine with half of the vinaigrette. Pour over the salad, mix to combine. Add more vinaigrette as needed.
Recipe by Chef Martin Oswald
Are you interested in learning how to responsibly source quality ingredients?
If you answered yes, then joining us for the Natural Food Chef program is the right choice for you! In just 15 weeks you can become a certified Natural Food Chef. In this program, you will learn all about how to navigate confusing product labels, see through the all-too-common practice of greenwashing (marketing techniques used to make low-quality products appear environmentally friendly to the consumer), and best practices for cost-effective ways to responsibly source the highest quality ingredients. Not only that, but you’ll be cooking with (and eating) these high-quality foods every day you’re in class!
To learn more about the program and all of the valuable skills you will gain from it, you can hear from our Chef Instructors directly by attending a cooking demonstration or get in touch with the NTI admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you make this recipe?
We would love to hear your feedback, see your creations and share your recipe photo with the NTI community! Tag your photos on Instagram and/or Facebook with @ntischool, #ntieats, and #ntischool
More Fall Recipe Inspiration:
Squash Stuffed with Pears and Wild Rice, Root Veggie Mash, and Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Maple Brown Butter would all make great additions to any Thanksgiving table.
About the Author: Amber Frazier is a self-proclaimed nutrition nerd. She believes that life should be about thriving, not just surviving— and proper nutrition can help everyone do just that. As a graduate of both the Nutrition Therapist Master and Natural Food Chef programs, she has experienced firsthand how powerful food can be and wants to help others come to the same realization. Find her on Instagram at @realfoodthriving.
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