What to CookSalad

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

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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.
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.

Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese

Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese

Hetty McKinnon Hetty McKinnon
Serves 4 as a first course or side
  • ¾ cups wheatberries or farro, rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove, skin removed
  • 3 cups chopped butternut squash (500g/1lb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medjool dates, seeds removed and quartered
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • handfuls flat leaf parsley leaves, torn (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3.5 ounces blue cheese (stilton or gorgonzola are my fave), crumbled
  • handfuls toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Go to Recipe

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

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Blue Cheese, Date, Squash, Vegetable, Entertaining, Weeknight Cooking, Vegetarian