Roasted Butternut Squash and Millet Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash and Millet Salad

Who said that butternut squash was just for Fall???

In a perfect world I would always eat just seasonal foods; however, in reality there are some foods that you just can’t get enough of. Butternut squash is a great example of this! Its mild sweet flavor, easy preparation and recipe versatility makes this vegetable something that I enjoy using year round. In the fall and winter I love to use butternut squash in soups, stews and lasagnas; however, during the summer months I like to mix things up and use this delectable treat in lighter warm weather dishes. Roasting in the oven is the best way to keep this food simple and light, where its sweet flavor can be featured in amazing summer salads.

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Having roasted butternut squash alone is delicious but adding a bit of homemade cajun seasoning to the mix really gives it that extra pizazz. And there’s more! In addition to being roasted, I also add a light drizzle of honey over the tops of the squash, creating a mouth-watering contrast of sweet and spicy that really play well off each other and blend beautifully with the butternut squash’s subtle flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Millet Salad

Being one of my favorite go-to’s in my gluten-free arsenal, I chose to use millet as the star grain in this dish. Millet is part of the “ancient grains” group, originatinng from the Far East. It is very small and, at quick glance, resembles quinoa. But don’t be fooled…millet has its own unique texture and taste. Millet has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor, which pairs well with the natural sweetness of the butternut squash and the citrus flavors of the Lemon Champagne and Honey Vinaigrette used in the recipe. It is a great gluten-free alternative to quinoa when you want to switch things up in the kitchen!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Millet Salad

To pack even more flavor and freshness into this unique salad I add nutty toasted pecans, tart dried cranberries, and crispy swiss chard. Feta cheese is sprinkled over the top as a final touch to this delicious meal.

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Millet is very easy to make and cooks up in no time. Just add 1 part millet to 2 parts water (or chicken stock) in a pot, bring everything to a boil, add a pinch of kosher salt and pepper and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow the millet to simmer for 20-25  minutes on low until the millet is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Then remove from the heat and allow the millet to rest covered for several minutes before fluffing with a fork – sounds very similar to quinoa right!

The most tedious part of this recipe is preparing the butternut squash – which really isn’t that bad at all. The first thing that you will need to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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With a vegetable peeler, remove the skin of the butternut squash. Then take a sharp knife and cut off the top and bottom of the squash.

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Cut the squash horizontally in half, creating two short cylindrical pieces.

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Then cut each portion vertically down the middle so you have 4 pieces. Don’t worry, this is as hard as the math will get 🙂

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To the bottom portions containing the seeds, take a spoon and scoop out the seeds and pulp from the cavity.

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Cut each piece into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes by slicing them vertically into sticks and then horizontally. Place the butternut squash cubes into a large mixing bowl.

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To the mixing bowl, add the safflower oil, a pinch of kosher salt, cracked black pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of the homemade cajun seasoning . Mix and lay the cubes out on a large baking sheet lined with foil and lightly sprayed with Pam.

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Drizzle the honey over the tops of the squash and roast them for 40-50 minutes in the oven, until the squash is lightly browned, caramelized, and cooked through. Remove and allow them to slightly cool while you finish assembling the salad. (I also like to run a spatula under the bottoms of the butternut squash while still warm so they don’t stick to the foil.)

To make the dressing, add the extra-virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, lemon, honey, homemade cajun seasoning, kosher salt and pepper to a mixing bowl and whisk together until emulsified.

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This recipe is super fast to assemble once the butternut squash has roasted. Just toss the cooked millet, roasted butternut squash, red onion, swiss chard, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a serving bowl.

Drizzle the Lemon Champagne and Honey Vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.

Pair this tasty dish with tofu for a vegetarian meal or with my Honey-Mustard Chicken for a healthy protein filled dinner or lunch!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Millet Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy, Gluten-Free
Cuisine: Side Dish, Lunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons homemade cajun seasoning, recipe on blog
  • 1 tablespoon organic dark amber honey
  • 2 teaspoons safflower oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup millet (brand: Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Millet)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1-2 cups chopped fresh spinach, swiss chard, kale, or mixed greens
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • feta cheese to taste
  • Lemon Champagne and Honey Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons organic dark amber honey
  • ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Combined 1 cup millet and 2 cups water (or chicken stock) in pot, bring everything to a boil, add a pinch of kosher salt and pepper then reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes on low until millet is tender and has absorbed the liquid.
  2. Remove from heat and allow millet to rest covered for several minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. With a vegetable peeler, remove skin from butternut squash.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom of squash.
  6. Cut the butternut squash horizontally in half, creating two short cylindrical pieces.
  7. Cut each portion vertically down the middle so you have 4 pieces.
  8. To the bottom portion containing the seeds, take a spoon and scoop out seeds and pulp from the cavity.
  9. Cut each piece into ½ inch to 1 inch cubes by slicing them vertically into sticks and then horizontally. Place the butternut squash cubes into a large mixing bowl.
  10. To the mixing bowl, add safflower oil, pinch of kosher salt, cracked black pepper and homemade cajun blend.
  11. Mix and lay cubes out on a large baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with Pam.
  12. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey over tops of the squash and roast for 40-50 minutes in the over until squash is lightly browned, caramelized, and cooked through. Remove and allow to slightly cool. When still warm make sure to loosen cubes from pan with a spatula to prevent sticking.
  13. To make dressing, add extra-virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, lemon, honey, cajun seasoning, kosher salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk together until emulsified.
  14. Toss desired amount of cooked millet, roasted butternut squash, red onion, swiss chard, chopped pecans, dried cranberries and feta cheese in a serving bowl. Toss with vinaigrette.

 

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