Butternut Squash Autumn Salad

Looking for something new to try at Thanksgiving this year? Made with in-season produce and warm fall flavors, this is the perfect side dish to go with your turkey dinner!

I worked with Gaby, a recipe developer and owner of the food blog Running on Breakfast, to bring you this autumn salad. When we set out to develop this recipe, we wanted to create a delicious side dish for Thanksgiving that incorporates ingredients that are currently in-season.


Shopping in-season for produce can help cut back on cost while also maximizing the nutritional value of fruits and veggies since they don't have to be shipped from far away. Pomegranate and butternut squash are two of my favorite fall fruits (yes, technically squash is a fruit) and this dish highlights their flavors.


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Nutrient Highlights:


1. Butternut Squash: In addition to being high in fiber, butternut squash is also packed with nutrients. The orange color of this squash is produced by carotenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye health, immune function, and cell formation. Butternut squash is also high in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps with tissue synthesis, immune function, and the absorption of iron. Both Vitamin A and C are powerful antioxidants, which can help combat post-exercise muscle damage caused by intense training.


1 cup of butternut squash has:

  • 450% of your daily Vitamin A

  • 50% of your daily Vitamin C

  • 7g of fiber - beneficial for gut health

  • 22g of carbohydrates - great for replenishing muscle glycogen

  • 17% of your daily potassium - an important electrolyte

2. Pomegranate Seeds: Pomegranate seeds contain anthocyanins. This powerful plant chemical can help prevent excess inflammation, which can help boost muscle recovery. Pomegranate seeds are also rich in dietary nitrates. These help improve blood flow, which can increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to working muscles.


1 cup of pomegranate seeds have:

  • 7g of fiber - beneficial for gut health

  • 30% of your daily vitamin C - good for immune function and recovery

  • 12% of your daily potassium - an important electrolyte

3. Pepitas: Pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds without the shell, are a great source of plant-based nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, and magnesium. They are also chalk full of healthy fats, making them a great way to get more energy into your food.


1/4 cup of pepitas have:

  • 9g of plant-based protein

  • 3g of fiber

  • 1.2mg of iron - important for oxygen delivery

As you can see, this side dish is packed with nutrients that play an important role in health and performance. One thing I love about it is that it's great warm or cold, so the leftovers are perfect to add to lunches or to have for a snack. With carbs, color, and protein it checks all of my boxes for a balanced dish!


Butternut Squash Autumn Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes


Ingredients

Salad Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. of pre-cut butternut squash cubes (you can also buy a whole squash and cut into 1" cubes)

  • 1 ½ tbsp of avocado oil

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (or ½ tsp of minced garlic)

  • 2 tsp of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp of salt

  • ¼ tsp of black pepper

  • 1 cup of couscous

  • 1 cup of water

  • ½ cup of pomegranate seeds (plus more for topping)

  • ½ cup of pepitas

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ⅛ cup of olive oil

  • ⅛ cup of balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp of minced shallot

  • ¼ tsp of salt

  • ¼ tsp of black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large baking sheet or line with a silicone baking mat.

  2. While the oven is preheating, place the butternut squash cubes in a mixing bowl. Add the avocado oil, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, ½ tsp of salt, and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Mix to combine.

  3. Transfer the seasoned butternut squash cubes to the baking sheet, spreading them into a single layer. Roast the butternut squash for approximately 20 minutes.

  4. While the butternut squash is roasting, prepare the couscous. In a small pot over high heat, heat the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add the couscous. Cover the pot and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and set it aside for now.

  5. Prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced shallot, salt, and pepping in a small jar or measuring cup. Whisk/shake to combine.

  6. Once the butternut squash is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. Transfer the butternut squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked couscous, the pomegranate seeds, and pepitas and toss gently to combine.

  7. Top the salad with extra pomegranate seeds and serve with the dressing. Enjoy!

If you try out this recipe, be sure to tag @fueling_forward and @runningonbreakfast on Instagram or comment below and let us know what you think!

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