Weeknight Cooking

A Funky, Nutty Salad (for When You're Bored of Salads)

January 11, 2018

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This flavor-bomb comes from self-professed "food writer and salad-maker" Food52 member Hetty McKinnon, and it's here to shake up your leafy green routine.

We have entered the time of year when many, still hyped on January resolutions, are trying to get more greenery in their lives. This often means salad, be it a grain salad, a genius slaw, a bitter radicchio number, or, the old standby: kale salad. By now you've probably drizzled vinaigrettes galore onto beds of arugula, topped your green bowls with soft-boiled eggs, and dutifully shaved your vegetables into colorful, cruciferous ribbons. Your salad tongs might be constantly in the dishwasher. You might be nearing the end of your salad rope—or perhaps you've already gotten there.

A sunburst of color and flavors and everything nice. Photo by Rocky Luten

Enter this explosively good recipe for Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese. It's as if recipe author Hetty McKinnon knew our creeping salad ennui and set out to save us, with a dish that shouts "EAT ME!" from the rooftops instead of quietly whispering it from the corner of your plate. The sweetness of the dates, amped-up thanks to a quick sauté, balances perfectly against warm, spiced butternut squash, funky blue cheese, and toasted walnuts. Wheatberries (or farro, or any other grain) joins the party to bring some bulk, and spicy arugula keeps everything awake. A salad this flavor-packed needs only the simplest dressing of lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and it's ready to brighten up your January doldrums on repeat. McKinnon calls it "a hearty salad for sharing with family and friends," but we just might want to eat the whole batch ourselves.

How do you jazz up your salads, even in the winter doldrums? Zippy vinaigrettes? Lots of crunchy bits? Tell us in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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