We're in the home stretch of winter with daylight hours increasing bit by bit, but with farmer's markets and fresh produce still many months away. This cous cous salad made with winter squash and a handful of pantry staples is a bright and tangy hint of springtime, and yet it's hearty enough to fuel us through another day of slush and wind. This salad can be served room temperature or cold.
Cous Cous Salad with Winter Squash and Cranberries
1 medium butternut squash (or other hard winter squash)--peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup un-cooked cous cous
1 cup water
4-5 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cumin
1-3 teaspoons salt--to taste
1 can garbanzo beans--drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 oz goat cheese (if desired)
1/2 cup walnuts-coarsely chopped (if desired)
Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast squash, stirring occasionally, until tender--about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before combining with other ingredients.
Heat water in sauce pan to boiling. Add cous cous and stir. Remove pan from heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for about 15 minutes, until the cous cous has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Saute onion in a skillet over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside and allow to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, zest, spices, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
In a large bowl, combine squash, cous cous, onions, garbanzo beans, and cranberries. Pour on the vinegar-oil dressing and stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning and add salt if needed. If including, crumble the goat cheese into chunks and gently fold into the salad. (Note: Make sure the salad is room temperature at this point, or the goat cheese will melt.)
Top each serving with a sprinkle of walnuts and enjoy.
Makes about 5 cups.