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Grilled BBQ Squash Salad with Citrus Dressing

By the time the new year rolls around and we’ve eaten our way through the holiday season, many of us are looking to start or get back to healthy eating. Many winter vegetables are perfect for grilling thanks to their hearty texture and natural sugars that caramelize beautifully on a hot grill.  The dry rub […]

By the time the new year rolls around and we’ve eaten our way through the holiday season, many of us are looking to start or get back to healthy eating. Many winter vegetables are perfect for grilling thanks to their hearty texture and natural sugars that caramelize beautifully on a hot grill.  The dry rub used for the squash and nuts in this recipe is a great way to add tons of flavor to veggies, chicken or shrimp without many extra calories so it’s nice to double or triple the recipe and keep some in your spice cabinet.  Plus, grilling adds even more calorie free flavor! Eating healthy is easier when prepped ahead of time so while the knife is out and the grill is hot throw some extra veggies (or fruits!) on the grill for leftovers to use over grains, in salads, or even tucked into tortillas for a quesadilla or soft taco. This warm, healthy salad is a flavorful and filling dish even when it’s still cold outside. The fresh citrus dressing is a great compliment to the smoky seasoning of the squash and a reminder that summer is just around the corner!

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Ingredients

  • DRY RUB
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, pink salt works well here, but not necessary
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • CITRUS DRESSING
  • Zest and juice of ½-1 orange (about ¼-⅓ cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or agave nectar or maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 small shallot, minced
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper (pink peppercorns have a citrusy quality and add beautiful red and pink flecks to the dressing if you it on hand)
  • SQUASH SALAD
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeds scooped out and sliced into ½ inch slices (conversely, slice off the top and slice squash into rounds removing center seeds and strings)
  • 1 red onion, outer layer removed and sliced into 4 roughly ½ inch slices
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup halved nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts would work well)
  • ½ cup crumbled cheese (blue, feta, or goat would work well)
  • 6 cups hearty greens, like romaine or kale
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

  • Preheat 2 burners on grill to medium low. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Preparation: To make the dry rub, combine first 9 spices in a bowl and whisk or stir to combine.
  • To make citrus dressing, combine citrus juices, zest, honey, shallot, soy sauce, pinch of salt and pink pepper, if using, in a bowl. Whisk olive oil into dressing in a stream to combine.
  • Place squash slices in a medium or large bowl and toss with 1 ½ tablespoons of canola oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 of spice mix, stirring to combine. Place onion slices on plate or dish and drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add nuts to a small skillet, preferably cast iron, on side burner over medium. Place squash slices on well-seasoned grill and close lid. Reserve onion.
  • Stir nuts frequently for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and add butter and 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet, stirring to melt. Add remaining ½ of spice mixture and stir to combine. Add water and stir for 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens and coats nuts. Remove nuts to prepared baking sheet and separate with a fork. Allow to cool.
  • Check squash and flip if char marks are desired color. Add onions to grill. Close lid for 4-5 minutes, checking any unturned squash slices periodically.
  • Check squash and flip onions. Move any squash to cooler side of grill to finish cooking once exterior char is medium to deep brown. Close lid for remaining 4-5 minutes. Remove squash and onions to platter when ready.
  • Assemble Salad: Toss greens with a pinch of salt, pepper and ⅓ cup citrus dressing, reserving remainder. Layer squash and onions on top of greens and sprinkle with dried cranberries, cheese and nuts. Serve remaining dressing on side. Alternatively, place squash round on plate, place grilled onion in center and pile greens and remaining toppings atop for a beautiful presentation!

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