Monday, December 6, 2010

Unexpected Splash of Flavor - Butternut Cranberry Salad

I warned my guests that I was trying something new and they didn't have to love it. But this surprising mix of fall flavors was quite well received. I think each guest made a comment or two along the lines of "How ever did you come up with the idea of grating butternut?" and "I've never heard of shredding fresh butternut?"

The presentation is gorgeous, and I was grateful for a recipe that is so packed with vitamins! Squash is a power packed vegetable "big bang for your buck" if you will. You could probably create a lovely salad around grated butternut with a nice vinaigrette dressing and none of the sugar. But to enjoy real fresh cranberries you need a minimum of sweetness to overcome their natural (and need I say overwhelming) tartness. I'm only making a big deal about this because I would like to include this salad in my best choices category. A little bit of sugar is not going to ruin a healthy diet. Most days I would rather have my sugar in a salad than in a dessert.

Butternut Cranberry Salad

1/2 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and seeded
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Black pepper

Grate the Butternut squash in the food processor. Transfer to a large glass bowl.

Heat the cranberries in a saucepan, just until some of the berries start to break. I cooked mine way too long and ended up with purple paste instead of juice and soft berries like you want. Fortunately I had some extra berries that I could heat up real quick and add to the "berry paste" and it worked out great. It really doesn't take long at all.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients until the sauce is homogeneous. Pour the warm dressing over the shredded butternut and toss lightly before serving.

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