ROASTED SQUASH, SPINACH & LEEK SALAD WITH MAPLE SYRUP DRESSING
Dave's Dinners: A Fresh Approach To Home-Cooked Meals
by Dave Lieberman
I had this in mind as my ultimate winter salad because all the ingredients seem to scream "winter" and because it's a heartier salad than a lot of my others. Prepping and roasting the squash is a bit of extra work, but it also gives you a more substantial salad, one that could make a light meal on its own.
For the Salad
• 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 cup pecan halves
• 1 small leek
• 10 ounces spinach, rinsed, dried, and large stems removed
For the Dressing
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 cup cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 15 to 20 grinds fresh black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Toss the squash cubes on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt. Roast 25 minutes, until tender, tossing every 10 minutes or so. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool fully.
Spread the pecans out on another baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove the green tops and bottom root from the leek. Cut the remaining portion of the leek in half lengthwise and rinse under cold water to wash away any grit inside the leek. Cut each half in half crosswise, then thinly cut vertically to create leek matchsticks.
Make the dressing by shaking together all the dressing ingredients in a scalable container or whisk together in a bowl. Toss the spinach with the dressing, divide the spinach between serving plates, and top with the squash pieces. Scatter the leek matchsticks around the salad, then finish with the toasted pecans.
I usually have good, real maple syrup lying around my pantry. It is on the expensive side, but you can usually find small containers of syrup that only cost a few bucks. By all means, do not substitute artificial pancake syrup. You're better off leaving it out altogether!