A beautiful autumn salad combining butternut squash, pearl couscous, dried fruit and nuts
Anyone who thinks that they don’t like salad is probably imagining a bowl full of soggy iceberg, a few chunks of less than crispy cucumber, slices of unripe tomatoes and a drizzle of a thick and clumpy white vinaigrette. We don’t blame you! That sounds gross. But salads, friends, are so much more than that. In fact, when you combine delicious ingredients that are chopped up into bite-size pieces in a bowl and toss them with a wonderful dressing, salads become a thing of beauty. Every bite is a celebration of seasonal produce, and a great salad like our squash and pearl couscous salad is full of amazing textures and flavours.
We came up with this recipe using some of our favourite things. We are huge fans of winter squash, and butternut squash is one of our favourites. We also grow kale in our garden and are always looking for new ways to use it. Kale is a great green to grow; it thrives even in the cooler months of autumn. The pearl couscous we use in this salad give a lovely texture to the salad, and holds the dressing so, so well!
Speaking of dressing, the vinaigrette for this squash and pearl couscous salad is SO good! Once you make it, you will never go back to the bottled stuff. Making your own dressing is so easy, and this particular one can also be used on other salads as well (for a change, try it on our kale quinoa and apple salad, or our beloved Zoi’s salad). We love to make salad dressing in mason jar; the tight fitting lid and clear glass jar make it easy to see how the dressing is coming along as you shake it up!
What is pearl couscous?
Pearl couscous is also called Israeli couscous or giant couscous isn’t actually couscous at all! It is pasta that is shaped into perfect round balls and which has a delightful chewy texture. Pearl couscous works beautifully in salads like our squash and pearl couscous salad.
What is the difference between couscous and pearl couscous?
As mentioned, pearl couscous is manufactured to produce perfect balls of pasta made of semolina flour and water. True couscous however is traditionally made by hand and although it too is made of semolina flour and water, it is much smaller and irregularly shaped. Whereas pearl couscous must be boiled to cook, couscous is steamed. If you eat couscous often, you can even invest in a couscousier!
Can I use another winter squash for this salad?
You can try making this salad with cubed acorn squash or any other winter gourd – even pumpkin would work out well! Roasting time may vary, depending on the variety of squash that you choose, so adjust accordingly.
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Squash and pearl couscous salad
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 jar with lid (mason jar) or small bowl for the dressing
- 1 Sheet parchment paper
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp honey, or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the salad:
- 1 cup dry pearl couscous
- 1 butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups packed chopped kale leaves, or arugula
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta optional
For the dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid or a bowl. Shake your jar, or whisk the contents of the bowl until all ingredients are combined. Set aside.1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp honey, or maple syrup, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 garlic clove, minced or grated, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the salad
- Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the butternut squash with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.1 butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper
- Spread the butternut squash in an even layer on a parchment lined baking pan. Roast in the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
- Meanwhile, cook your pearl couscous according to the instructions on the package.1 cup dry pearl couscous
- In a large bowl add your kale (or arugula), the red onions, cranberries and pecans and toss with two tablespoons of the dressing, making sure you're coating the kale with the dressing.3 cups packed chopped kale leaves, or arugula, 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, 3/4 cup dried cranberries, 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts
- Add the squash and cooked couscous and add in as much dressing as you like. Toss to combine. Add feta if desired.1/3 cup crumbled feta