I love salads, either as a main course for lunch or as a side at dinner. They can be prepared with a variety of seasonal greens, fruits and vegetables fresh from the market. This colorful spinach and mushroom salad with butternut squash croutons is sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and drizzled with a dressing of dark green, nutty flavorful pumpkin seed oil and aged balsamic vinegar. The salad has a lovely combination of flavors and textures. The earthy flavors of sautéed mushrooms, the sweet creaminess of the caramelized butternut squash croutons, and the crunch of the pepita seeds go so well with the tender leaves of the baby spinach dressed in a flavorful dressing.
This salad can be put together quickly. If you don’t wish to turn on your oven to roast the butternut squash, the croutons can be prepared on your stove top with similar results.
Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons
This recipe makes 2 large salads or 4 side salads so plan accordingly.
The dressing can be made earlier in the day. It is a simple mixture of 3 Tbsp. of pumpkin seed oil, 2 Tbsp. of aged balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
- 1/2 of a butternut squash, peeled, and cubed
- 1 Tbsp. or more olive oil for squash
- 6 mushroom caps (2 inch size portobello or white)
- 1 Tbsp. or more olive oil for mushrooms
- 6 oz. package of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
- 2 Tbsp. or more pepita seeds, toasted
- salt and pepper to taste
Toss the cubed butternut squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a 425 degree oven until caramelized and tender (about 15 – 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. ( The squash can also be sautéed in a pan with olive oil until caramelized and soft).
In the meantime, heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms turn a little golden, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To serve, toss the spinach with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Plate and then arrange the mushrooms on the spinach and top with the butternut squash croutons. Sprinkle with the toasted pepitas and serve. Note: You may want to drizzle a little extra pumpkin seed oil on top for extra flavor.
If you haven’t tried pumpkin seed oil, I think you should search it out. I fell in love with its wonderful flavor on my trips to Austria and Germany where it is thought of as “green gold”. It has a rich nutty flavor that is wonderful drizzled over salads, soups, and other dishes. If heated at a high temperature, it can become bitter. If stored properly, it will keep about a year.