This salad is way more comforting and way less dramatic than it might seem at first glance. Beet juice makes this dish a little visually intense, but on the tongue, it's really just an accent.
Orange slices provide a perfect pop of freshness in both flavor and texture next to gently sweet, soft, roasted acorn squash. The beets, soaked with fresh sage in balsamic and orange juice, are both sharp and earthy, and a wonderful contrast to the orange components. The salad is then topped off with a garnish of toasted pine nuts and a lively parsley dressing (a perennial favorite in the MSV kitchen) bursting with lime, garlic, and a touch of ginger, made totally luscious by pureeing in a handful of pine nuts.
All those parts may seem a little fussy, but the salad comes together with surprising ease. The beets marinate while the squash roasts, leaving ample time to segment the orange, quickly puree the dressing, and toast the nuts.
For a simple side, take an extra minute to chop and lightly saute the greens from your beets, then toss them just before serving with a generous sprinkle of our Savory Nut Crumble. Throw some spare chickpeas in the pan with the greens if you happen to have them on hand. Dinner is done and gorgeous and overflowing with nutrients.
Roasted Acorn Squash-Orange-Marinated Beet Salad with Zesty Parsley Dressing
1 small-medium acorn squash (1 1/4 lb total weight), cut into bite-size pieces
1 TBSP olive oil
generous pinch fine sea or kosher salt
1 small (or half a medium) beet (2-3 ounces total weight), trimmed, peeled, and grated
12 medium fresh sage leaves (from about 2 sprigs), chopped
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP water
1/2 tsp natural sugar (evaporated cane juice)
generous pinch fine sea or kosher salt salt
1 medium orange
1 TBSP pine nuts
2-3 TBSP Zesty Parsley Dressing, recipe follows, plus more to drizzle, if desired
Preheat oven to 400. Toss the squash with oil and salt and roast until tender and beginning to brown at the edges, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the grated beets, chopped sage, vinegar, water, sugar, and pinch salt. Stir and set aside.
With a paring knife, remove the peel and pith from the orange. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, use the paring knife to segment the orange. Set the orange slices aside and pour the caught juice over the marinating beets. Stir to combine.
If your dressing isn't prepared in advance, prepare it now. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and set aside to let cool a bit. Then pour the beets into a fine mesh sieve and set aside to let drain.
Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, add pine nuts and toast, tossing frequently and watching constantly, until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden in spots, a couple of minutes.
To assemble, add the warm squash, orange slices, drained beets and sage, and 2-3 TBSP of dressing to a serving bowl and toss gently. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and drizzle sparingly with additional dressing, if desired.
Zesty Parsley Dressing
adapted from Moosewood Daily Special
1 small bunch parsley leaves (tightly packed 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 TBSP lime juice (from about 2 small limes)
2 TBSP water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
generous 1-inch piece ginger root (about 3/4 oz), finely grated
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
Puree all ingredients until smooth.