Delicata Squash Sunshine Salad w/ Miso Sriracha Dressing (Vegan, Gluten Free)
The freezing air lashes at you when you head outside. Instead of running naked into the pure, crisp air I settle into a nest of soft blankets alongside the fire and pretend the heat is the pure melting glory of Summer sun. The wood stove is all charcoal-black iron, cinders and oak chips and glimmering coals. Whereas the cold outside has its crystalline, stark beauty -- during my walks I see the spine of mountains rising up around my town in soft navy blues and purples. The trees have retracted into themselves, so the bare white branches gnarling up towards the sky have become all shadow and light. I watched a host of hundreds of sparrows create a net of themselves in the air, toss the net over the tall tree outside of my house, turning the branches black as the setting sun turned everything pink. It was like seeing sesame seeds thrown at spun sugar.
It gets me thinking about how life thrives on through the deep sleep of Winter. How we take our time in Winter to go inwards and gestate a new sense of self. To take note of who we were, and how all of our past selves have led to our present. And how we can choose to be born into a new self when the Spring unfurls. To stretch our limbs and peel away the layers and start a year with fresh eyes.
I buzz around my kitchen in a sort of dream state, taking note of what ingredients I've settled into bowls around the kitchen, what fresh things are still crisp in the fridge. My process for making a meal is more and more a playful improvisation. I have a sense of the flavors I want and list in my head of all of the possible bits and bobs that I could put together to achieve the taste. In this case I wanted to create a pretty, supportive background for mellow-sweet roasted delicata squash. Which could be almost anything, as in my mind delicata pairs well with most things. But nutty, salty, sweet miso and a host of bright and neutral veg seemed a lovely backdrop to set the scene. So out comes vibrant green spinach and lemon-yellow pepper and carrot, with nourishing garbanzos and zinc-rich pepitas (to support our immune systems) alongside. The result: a salad that reminds me of sunshine, that makes me feel bright and light and energized. A nod to Summer sporting harvest abundance.
- 2 medium-small delicata squash, deseeded & sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow carrot, sliced thinly into rounds
- 1/2 cup yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 can cooked garbanzo beans, drained (or 1.5 cups cooked garbanzos)
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons mellow white miso paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1/8 cup water
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Toss the rounds of delicata squash with olive oil and sea salt and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- While the squash is cooking : in a large salad bowl, toss together the baby spinach, parsley, carrot, pepper, garbanzo beans, pepitas, and olives.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together the miso, olive oil, honey, sriracha, and water until smooth.
- Once the squash has cooled, add it to the salad along with the dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately!