butternut squash pear salad

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. I HATE salads. Ugh, all that lettuce. Dry, boring bowls of tasteless leaves. I’m the type of person who only hits the salad bar as an excuse to drown some vegetables in dressing. We’re in the trust tree, right? We can all be honest here.

But even though I hate salads, I do have an odd love affair with spinach. I put that shit in everything, from blending it in my breakfast smoothies to sneaking it into pasta sauce. So, I was bound and determined to figure out how to make a spinach salad I’d actually eat (barring the tried and true warm bacon-topped variety. Because baaaaacon…).

This spinach salad recipe combines the earthy fall flavor of butternut squash with bright pear and briny feta. Plus, the addition of crunchy pepitas takes this sucker from boring to BAM! in just one tablespoon. Oh, and did I mention the zing of the fresh orange ginger dressing? Yah, salads just might be my new jam.
 

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 10-oz container of spinach
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced and roasted
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pear, diced
  • 4 Tbs feta
  • 4 Tbs pepitas 
  • salt & pepper

Orange Ginger Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt

 

scooping butternut squash

Roast the Butternut Squash

  1. Peel the butternut squash, then cut it in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out the little hole with the seeds and gunk; discard.
  3. Chop half of the squash into 1” cubes, dump into a bowl.
  4. Reserve the other half for another recipe, like our Butternut Squash Enchiladas.
  5. Toss squash chunks with 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper.
  6. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until they’re forking tender.
  7. Let cool on the pan until edible. (Seriously, give it at least 20 minutes to cool down or you’ll burn the fork out of your mouth.)

roasting butternut squash
 

Assemble Your Spinach and Pear Salad

This recipe will easily make four salads, or two giant entrée salads if you eat like pigs (as Eric and I do on the regular).

  1. Wash and dry your spinach leaves, then divide evenly into salad bowls.
  2. Top each bowl with a liberal spoonful or two of the roasted butternut squash.
  3. Dice a pear into ½” cubes. Spread pear pieces evenly over each salad.
  4. Finish each salad off with 1 Tbs. each feta cheese and pepitas*.

* For all you gringos out there, pepitas are just hulled pumpkin seeds. You can find them at most grocery stores. We love the spicy pepitas made by SuperSeedz and sold at Costco (pic below). They’re awesome as salad toppers and healthy between-meal snacks.
pumpkin seeds

Shake Up Your Orange Ginger Salad Dressing

First of all, is there anything cooler than someone who makes their own salad dressing?! In my head, I’m always like, “Wow, that person is so down to Earth and so organized. I mean, they had time to make their own damn SALAD DRESSING, for Christsakes!” And here I am, just picking up another bottle from Trader Joe’s that’s bound to live in my refrigerator door for the next year unnoticed until I move and have to throw it out. God, I really need to get my life together.

And then—whammo!—I learned just how stupidly easy it is to make salad dressing. (Like seriously, you can do it with as little as TWO ingredients. Forehead smack!) And now I’m that super awesome chick who brings her own homemade, wholesome dressing to the work salad bar and all my coworkers are like, “OMG, Kelly has SO got her shit together!”

spinach salad dressing

Because I’m a good person and want you too to have your shit together, I’ll share the secrets of making great salad dressings with you, my dear friends.

Step 1: Use legit oil and vinegar.

Splurge on good olive oil and vinegar, and get to know what the different varieties of each taste like. Never buy olive oil that comes in clear bottles, as the oil can easily become rancid with too much light exposure (that’s why olive oil is usually stored in dark glass). And never mistake white vinegar for white balsamic vinegar. You use white balsamic vinegar to make delicious salad dressings, like in this recipe. You use white vinegar to clean your kitchen grout.

Step 2: Buy a handy dandy salad dressing shaker.

Okay, so this step isn’t technically necessary as you can literally use any jar with a lid, or even a bowl and a whisk, to whip up homemade salad dressing. But it is so much cooler when you have a neat kitchen gadget to play with. I scored a salad dressing shaker at my local Ralph’s for about $9. You can also get a cool salad dressing shaker here.

Okay, now really, onto the dressing…

Orange Ginger Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients above.
  2. Shake to emulsify.
  3. Pour over your salad.

Boom! You are now a ninja homemade-salad-making master!
 

Butternut Squash Pear Salad
Serves 4
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Salad Ingredients
  1. 1 10-oz container of spinach
  2. 1/2 butternut squash
  3. 1 Tbs. olive oil
  4. 1 pear
  5. 4 Tbs feta
  6. 4 Tbs pepitas (pumpkin seeds, shelled)
  7. salt & pepper
Orange Ginger Vinaigrette
  1. 1/3 c. olive oil
  2. 1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  3. Juice of 1 orange
  4. ½ tsp. ground ginger
  5. ½ tsp. salt
Roast the Butternut Squash
  1. Peel the butternut squash, then cut it in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out the little hole with the seeds and gunk; discard.
  3. Chop half of the squash into 1” cubes, dump into a bowl.
  4. Reserve the other half for another recipe, like our Butternut Squash Enchiladas.
  5. Toss squash chunks with 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper.
  6. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until they’re forking tender.
  7. Let cool on the pan until edible. (Seriously, give that shit at least 20 minutes or you’ll burn the fork out of your mouth.)
Assemble Salads
  1. Wash and dry your spinach leaves, then divide evenly into salad bowls.
  2. Top each bowl with a liberal spoonful or two of the roasted butternut squash chunks.
  3. Dice a pear into ½” cubes. Spread pear pieces evenly over each salad.
  4. Finish each salad off with 1 Tbs. each feta cheese and pepitas*.
Orange Ginger Dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients above.
  2. Shake to emulsify.
  3. Pour over your salad.
Clean Living Dirty Mouth http://www.cleanlivingdirtymouth.com/

What did you think? Did I convert you non-salad eaters? If you have your own bomb homemade salad recipes to share, post ’em in the comments below!

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Kelly

About CLDM

Kelly and Eric

Meet Kelly & Eric, a couple of San Diego grown-ups who never stopped playing with their food or treating workouts like recess.

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