June 26, 2013

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Salad

I am sooo excited to be headed to Maine tomorrow for a few days (this means you won't be hearing from me again until I get back - don't be sad, haha)!  I will be staying at my aunt and uncle's place, which besides my own home, happens to be one of my most favorite places.  They live on a lake, and similar to where I live, it is so quiet and peaceful.  Every year there is a family of loons on the lake, and I just love to listen to them.  My aunt and I always take the kayaks out and have a leisurely paddle around the lake.  I'm hoping to get a nice close up picture of the loons this year.  In the past I've always been too scared to take my good camera out with me, but this time I think I'll chance it. 

My beautiful sweet cousin, Abby, is getting married this September to the most amazing guy.  This weekend they will be having her bridal shower, and I am so glad I will be there to experience this with her.  I can not even express how happy I am for her that she found the man of her dreams to spend the rest of her life with.  I couldn't be any more excited - I just love her to pieces!

So on to food.  I threw this salad together the other day, thinking it would be a great lunch item for me to take to work.  My husband doesn't like hummus, so I figured he wouldn't want to go near this salad because of the chickpeas.  After I finished putting it together he asked if he could try it, so of course I gave him a bite.  Once again, he shocked me by saying how good it was and told me he'd love me to make it again sometime so he could have some too!  Just when I think I have him pegged, he throws me a curve ball.  If my meat and potatoes man liked this salad, maybe yours will too!

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Salad (serves 2)

Garlic infused olive oil
1 small butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp real maple syrup
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Dash of red pepper flakes - how much you add depends on how spicy you like it
Dash of salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.  Place cubed squash on cookie sheet and toss with a good drizzle of the garlic infused olive oil (1-2 tbsp).  Season generously with salt & pepper.  Roast in oven for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally so the squash browns evenly.  Remove from oven and let pan set while you put together the vinaigrette.

In a small bowl, add the whisk together the maple syrup, orange juice, vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Add the olive oil slowly while whisking constantly until well combined.  Place the squash in a medium bowl.  Add the chickpeas and thyme and stir to combine.  Add some dressing, as much or as little as you want, and toss to combine.  Top salad with the goat cheese.