Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Walnuts and Roasted Garlic-Balsamic Vinaigrette

The other day while I was roasting eggplant for my roasted vegetable pesto, I went ahead and roasted up an extra baking sheet of other vegetables and a sheet pan of chicken breast. The oven was hot anyway, so why not be conservative and use all the space? Besides, it's summer and I don't want to heat up the oven more than I have to.

One of the vegetables I roasted was butternut squash, which I got from the farmers' market. I typically think of butternut squash as a fall vegetable, but if it's at the farmers' market I imagine it must be in season somewhere. I had wanted to add roasted butternut squash to a salad for a while after seeing a delicious recipe for butternut squash and chickpea salad on Smitten Kitchen, though I took a completely different direction with this salad. After roasting the squash, I allowed the squash to cool then refrigerated it overnight. The next day I allowed it to come to room temperature before tossing it in a delicious, hearty salad with chickpeas and a rich roasted garlic vinaigrette.

With the success of my roasted vegetable pesto fortified by its delicious roasted garlic, I added a lot of garlic to this squash and then add the softened garlic to my dressing. The mashed garlic, vinegar, and honey reminded me of marmalade; to tell you the truth, I forgot to add oil to the dressing but it was rich enough with the oil that seeped into the roasted garlic. The pulpy garlic added plenty of body to the dressing without adding extra fat. I think it would be a great dressing or marinade to keep on hand all the time. The crispy greens, hearty chickpeas, and crunchy walnuts balanced the creaminess of the squash and made for a substantial main-course salad. This would also be a great side dish, especially for barbecuing season.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Printable Recipe

2 lbs peeled and cubed butternut squash
8 whole, unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups mixed lettuces
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
kosher salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. On a foil-lined baking dish, toss the squash cubes and garlic cloves with the oil and some salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 35 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and lightly browned. The squash can be used warm in the salad or allowed to cool to room temperature.
3. Remove the roasted garlic from its skin by cutting a small piece off the bottom of each clove; squeeze out the cooked garlic pulp. Add the cooked garlic to a small bowl and mash it with a fork; whisk in the honey, vinegar, and some salt and pepper.
4. Toss the squash with the balsamic dressing, the chickpeas, lettuces, and walnuts. Serve immediately.

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