Friends! I love this recipe so much. If recipes were employees, I’d proclaim this dish “Employee of the Month – December 2017”. Whether I was cooking for healthy clients, or just trying to offer something wholesome on a holiday table, this simple side dish has been a real crowd pleaser. Now that the holidays are over and I’m craving all kinds of healthy foods for the new year, this dish is at the top of my “To-Cook” list. I hope it will be on yours, too!
To be honest, there isn’t much back story to this dish. It’s one of those combinations I came up with to combat all the heavy holiday eating that happens in November and December. Since most traditional holiday menus have lots of rich, creamy, cheesy, carby, meaty dishes, I kept including something that would cut through all of that. Butternut squash tossed with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, toasted nuts, dried cranberries and arugula is simple, straight-forward and delicious. Even better, it also happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian, and delightfully colorful. So, win, win, win, and win again!
The most time consuming part of this dish is peeling and roasting the squash. Trust me, I empathize with the fact that this attribute of butternut squash can be so tedious. But, once the squash is diced and on the sheet tray, you just have to sit back and wait for it to cook. That’s an easy trade off, no?
Once roasted, the squash can be tossed with all the ingredients, except for the arugula. I wait to add the arugula until just before serving so that it stays fresh and vibrant right up until the first bite. From this point, the squash can be refrigerated for up to a week for an easy side dish, or lunch on the go. I’d say that’s worth the peeling and dicing time, wouldn’t you?
Dare I say, “Bob’s Your Uncle”? No? Ok, well, it seemed appropriate, but in other words, there you have it! Easy, peasy. Done and done. Enjoy!
Seasonal butternut squash gets roasted and tossed with apple cider vinegar, dried cranberries, almonds and arugula for a side dish that’s healthy and flavorful.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes (about 4 cups)
1+2 tablespoons olive oil
2–3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup blanched almonds, or sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or cherries
1 generous cup of baby arugula
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
If you have a convection oven, preheat to 425 degrees. If you are using a standard oven, preheat to 450 degrees.
Peel the squash then cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Scatter on a sheet pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss to coat then place in the oven and roast until cubes are tender. If you are using convection this may be as quick as 15-20 minutes. If you aren’t using convection, it may take 30-40 minutes.
While the squash roasts, toast the almonds in a small saute pan over medium-low heat. Shake the pan often to prevent burning. Once the nuts start to turn golden and smell fragrant, they are done. For whole almonds, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer chopped or sliced almonds to a large mixing bowl.
Measure the dried cranberries into the bowl with the nuts along with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the squash is out of the oven, transfer it to the mixing bowl with the cranberries and nuts. Season with salt and pepper, and toss everything to combine. Check seasoning. For more punch, add another tablespoon of vinegar. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil.
Fold in the arugula just before serving. Scoop into bowls and serve room temperature, or chill and serve cold.