Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad

Finding time to make dinner isn’t easy.  Finding something new isn’t easy.  Hitting the right balance between ‘healthy’ and ‘tastes good’ isn’t always easy either.  This recipe solves all three problems.  It’s quick and new (at least to me) and lands squarely in the sweet spot between healthy and yummy.  This one’s a keeper.

Butternut and Black Bean Salad

I followed the basics of this recipe.  Here’s where I strayed:  no adobo sauce, no arugula, no walnuts and no goat cheese.  Instead:  smoked paprika and tomato paste, fresh spinach, no walnuts and no goat cheese.  I hate walnuts and just didn’t see the need to add the fat and calories with the cheese.  The original recipe also calls for seven teaspoons of olive oil.  I don’t know that you need all that.  Maybe half that much.  The key to this whole thing is the dressing.  It’s a smoky, tomato-y, tangy, honey-mustard type dressing.  It’s thick enough that it sticks to the spinach, but not nearly so heavy as a creamy dressing.  It’s good stuff.  Would be great on chicken or pork too.

It took about 35 minutes to pull this together, but some of that time is just waiting for the squash to finish.  If you want to shorten it even more do the squash and the dressing ahead of time.  You reheat the squash when you heat the beans anyway.  You’ll probably want to bring the dressing to room temperature as well.  Or, if you’d like the spinach to wilt slightly then warm the dressing before you put it on.

You end up with a hearty vegetarian main dish salad.  Orange vegetables, leafy greens, vegetarian protein and just enough dressing to make it interesting.  I’m pretty excited to be having it for lunch tomorrow too!

Good? Very good.
Easy? Very easy.
Good for company? For family. Or to take to a pot luck.
Special shopping? Nope.

Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad


4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (9-ounce) package baby spinach


1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Arrange squash on a jelly-roll pan coated with 2 t olive oil. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, paprika and tomato paste in a bowl; stir with a whisk.
4. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add squash, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, and beans; cook 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons dressing; toss to coat.
5. Combine remaining dressing and spinach; toss to coat. Divide spinach mixture evenly among 4 plates; top with bean mixture.


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