This little salad has real depth of flavor (and it's pretty too!) Also, I apologize in advance for the entirely too long title for such a small salad. I always laugh when bloggers name food with titles listing every ingredient...and now I've done it as well. Oh well, at least you know what's in it!
The key to this salad being really great is to serve it while the butternut squash is still hot (or at least reheat if before serving). While recipe testing, we had a bit of a disappointing lunch when we ate this salad with cold squash. Do not recommend!
The flavors in this are distinctly Middle Eastern - pomegranate, za'atar, and pine nuts, and they layer well with each other. This could be equally good with pistachios instead of pine nuts, for those of you who find pine nuts too oily. For me, pine nuts will always be heaven. Also, if you've got them on hand (I didn't), throw some pomegranate arils on this sucker as well.
I'm not going to lie, this recipe is pretty simple, but it's time consuming. Don't try to whip this up if you have people coming over in 20 minutes - the flavor on this doesn't come cheap, it builds over time. But, it is a mostly hands off recipe, so don't imagine you'll be slaving away on this.
Za'atar Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Molasses
Makes 2 servings, 1 hour preparation (15 minutes hands-on)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (1 inch)
2 tbsp za'atar
1/4 cup vegetable stock
4 cups salad greens (lamb's lettuce - pictured above, baby spinach, or arugula would all work)
1/4 cup pine nuts
For the Pomegranate Molasses:
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Heat a small stock pot over medium heat and add all the ingredients for the pomegranate molasses. Stir till the sugar is dissolved and then let it bubble away for 50 to 60 minutes. Stir occasionally until it becomes sticky and drizzles like molasses. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 400F (200C). Combine the butternut squash and most of the vegetable stock in a small bowl. Coat the squash in the liquid and lay it out on a lined baking tray (use parchment paper or silpat to line). Leave excess liquid in the bowl. Sprinkle half the za'atar over the squash. Place in the oven for 7 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven, and using tongs, flip each piece over. Drizzle a small amount of vegetable stock over the squash and sprinkle the remaining za'atar on top. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Combine the salad greens, squash, and pine nuts. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses on top. Serve immediately.