Sometimes, I just crave a good salad. Especially one with lots of mix-ins. Over the summer, we ate a lot of garden salads to use up the produce we were growing. Now that the garden is about done for the season, our salad consumption has slowed down.
Since my salad craving was strong this week, I decided to create a seasonal salad, using autumn ingredients.
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Have you tried Sweet Dumpling squash? Have you even heard of it? Maybe I’m late to this party, but Sweet Dumpling squash is a new one for me. I love butternut squash for soups, and I shared my favorite Maple Pecan Roasted Acorn Squash last week, but I had never even heard of Sweet Dumpling squash until this week.
My original vision for this salad was to use rings of delicata squash on top, but strangely, there were none to be found in our area this week. I had seen them at the local farm down the road when I bought my acorn squash the week before, but when I went back for delicata this week…nope.
So I asked my hubby to stop at the grocery store on his way home and get one. Again, none. Instead, he came home with these plump little round cuties that “sorta looked the same?”. 😂
I had to look them up to even know what they were! But, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned they are called Sweet Dumplings, and they are quite similar to delicata. So in the end, it turned out to be a happy ending, because it was fun to try something new. I will definitely be buying these again!
Cooking the Veggies
To prepare the squash, slice the Sweet Dumplings in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp in the middle. In the cavity, place a little maple syrup and butter. If using delicata squash, slice into 1-inch thick rings, and brush with melted butter.
For the Brussels sprouts, cut off the stems, toss in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Place both the squash and the sprouts on a foil-lined sheet pan, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
After 20 minutes or so, remove from the oven, and dip a pastry brush into the melted butter and syrup inside the squash. Baste the inside and edges of the squash with this delicousness. For good measure, brush a little on the sprouts, too! This will add extra flavor, and allow both the squash and sprouts to develop a bit of a caramelized coating on the exterior, which will be so good.
These roasted veggies add such great flavor to the other raw components of the salad.
The dressing is so simple. Just whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, or to make it even easier, measure them into a mason jar, put the lid on and shake vigorously. Then you can serve the dressing right from the jar.
If you don’t want to invest in an entire large package of the various toppings, check out the bulk nuts and seeds section of your market. At my grocery store, I was able to get just the small amount of roasted pumpkin seeds that I needed for this salad for only 25 cents!
I chose this Montamore Cheddar from the cheese section of my market, because the flavor is a mix of both cheddar and parmesan, which I thought would work with well with my other ingredients. But really, you can choose any cheese that you like. A feta would be good here, too.
Start with a bed of arugula on the bottom. Really, arugula is the way to go with this. The peppery flavor of arugula is a perfect contrast to the sweetness of several of the other elements.
Add the roasted Brussels Sprouts to the arugula. Sprinkle the seeds, dried fruit, and nuts over the greens.
Arrange the sliced chicken and squash on top of everything. Sprinkle on the cheese.
Drizzle everything with the dressing, as much or as little as you like.
This is a hearty salad and will fill you up. Serve it with a bread basket and a glass of Savignon Blanc, and you have a beautiful fall supper that’s a nice departure from the typical comfort food served this time of year.
For the salad:
- 6 cups arugula
- 1 cup roasted chicken sliced
- 16 Brussels Sprouts
- 1 Dumpling or Delicata Squash
- ¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecans roughly chopped
- 6 dried figs cut into quarters
- ½ cup white cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 Tbsp butter for cooking the squash
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup for cooking the squash
- 1 Tbsp olive oil for cooking the Brussels sprouts
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Slice the ends off of the Brussels sprouts, drizzle with a little olive oil, and season them with salt, pepper.
- Cut the Dumpling Squash in half, or the Delicata Squash into 1"-thick rings. If using Dumpling Squash, fill the center cavities with maple syrup and butter, If using Delacata, brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil.
- If you don't have pre-cooked chicken, you can also place a raw chicken breast on the same sheet pan, drizzled with oil oil, and salt and pepper, and roast with the sprouts and squash.
- Bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes, checking to make sure chicken is no longer pink in the middle and squash and sprouts are tender.
- Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together in a bowl, or shake in a pint-sized mason jar.
- Assemble the salad by creating a bed of arugula, adding the chopped figs, dried cranberries, and seeds and pecans.
- When chickena and veggies are done, and have cooled enough to handled, slice the chicken and add to top of salad. Slice the Dumpling Squash into rings, and add to salad. Add Brussels sprouts to salad whole.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheese and drizzle dressing over the top of all.
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