The holidays are coming where I'm pretty sure I'll be indulging a bit more into sweets and other higher calorie food. I'll be trying to balance it out with some healthier type foods and that is where this Butternut Squash Orzo Salad with Maple Vinaigrette comes into play. It's a light and refreshing salad perfect for lunch or as a side dish. Butternut squash is so available right now that it's fun to come up with new recipes for the palate! What's not to love with fresh spinach, orzo, craisins, roasted squash, tangy gorgonzola and topped with a creamy maple vinaigrette. It's quickly becoming one of my fall favorites.
So say you are asked to bring a side dish to your next holiday gathering and you show up with this colorful salad? I think your host would be pretty pleased. Another variation I thought of afterwards was using quinoa instead of the pasta to add some whole grains. I'll be trying that sometime soon too!
Butternut Squash with Maple Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Roast Time: 30 minutes
Yield 4-6 servings
- 2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/4")
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup orzo pasta (uncooked)
- 2 cups diced fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 ozs. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425
- Mix diced squash and olive oil then spread onto a rimmed cookie sheet
- Bake until squash is soft and starts to turn brown (between 20-30 minutes)
- Remove and set aside
- Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions. When done, drain and rinse well with cold water
- Combine squash, drained orzo, spinach, dried cranberries and gorgonzola in a large bowl and toss with maple vinaigrette
- To make vinaigrette, place syrup, vinegar, mustard, S&P in a small food processor, turn on blade and drizzle in olive oil until combined well
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Cutting butternut squash can be a bit time consuming. Once I peeled it, I cut in half vertically and used my mandoline on the 1/4" setting to cut slices and then from there, I used a knife to cut the cubes.
I ended up not using all the dressing. Feel free to add in as much as you think you'll want and save the rest to use on a green salad.
Enjoy this recipe!
Here are some of my other favorite salads you might enjoy: