Discovering My New ‘Go-To’ Salad for the Holidays

The holidays are here and so are the many holiday party invites that come along with it! My biggest dilemma during this time of the year is figuring out what to bring or contribute to a friend’s holiday festivity. Often times they ask for you to bring your favorite holiday treat or dish to share with everyone at the party. For a person like me who is always trying to impress….this is pressure!

What I have noticed though, is that you can’t fail when you bring a fresh winter salad to a dinner party. Think about it. Everyone brings something that is a danger to your pant size! So that’s why I was so excited to try out this winter salad and share it with the world! Or rather, my friends and family…

So I thought this would be a perfect time to try out a new salad recipe I found. This winter salad only needed a few things: butternut squash, mixed greens, dried cranberries, blue cheese, pecans and salad dressing. The most costly thing on this list was of course, the pecans. Publix doesn’t sell spiced pecans on their own so I made a stop at Fresh Market instead to pick up the pecans. Fresh Market allows you to measure out the amount of pecans you want to purchase so this actually ended up saving me money instead of buying a huge packet of spiced pecans.

Once I got home and settled, I immediately started to peel and slice up the butternut squash. I am a bit of a rookie when it comes to slicing up large vegetables, so take it from me that it’s a lot easier to take the squash and cut it into large chunks before trying to cube it. Also, I added some salt and pepper to the squash to add some extra flavor before I stuck them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Once the squash was out of the oven and cooled, I took the rest of the ingredients (not including the dressing) and mixed them together in a holiday salad bowl. It looked great! The salad dressing I put into a small mason jar for easy travel to the holiday party.

Now don’t think I didn’t grab a taste of the salad before I left! Overall, it was very flavorful and each bite had a mix of most of the ingredients in the salad. The beauty of this recipe is that you can add more or less of each of the ingredients as you see fit! Also, the pear gorgonzola vinaigrette can easily be switched out for a blush wine vinaigrette or any salad dressing of your choosing!

Mixed Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash, Spicy Pecans & Pear Gorgonzola Vinaigrette
¼ (1-2 C.) Butternut squash, roasted
4 C. Mixed greens
½ C.  Spicy pecans (substitute:  sugared pecans)
¼ C. Dried cranberries
½ C. Blue Cheese crumbles
½ C. Pear Gorgonzola Vinaigrette or your favorite dressing

Cut squash in half lengthwise, peel and remove seeds; cut into ½” cubes.  Place in single layer on roasting pan and bake 20-30 minutes at 400°, or until fork tender.  (Speedy option:  Place in microwavable dish and microwave 8-10 minutes, covered.)  Allow to cool.  On serving platter, layer mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, spicy pecans, dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles.  Drizzle with dressing of your choice.  Serve additional dressing as desired.

Laurel Sprague - Association of Dressings & Sauces