Delicata Arugula Salad

The holidays can make it challenging to eat healthy. On Thanksgiving we always seem to overindulge on mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy, creamy green beans, or whatever traditional dishes are a must-have on your table. This year try adding a salad to your dinner and enjoy something a little lighter to help balance all of the other carbohydrate filled dishes. This salad is both filling and delicious!

Here are a few other tips to be just a little bit healthier on Thanksgiving day; start the day with exercise, eat a healthy breakfast,and skip the appetizers at dinner. At dinner, try loading you plate with the vegetables and meats first, adding the potatoes and stuffing once the plate is full.

Have a happy turkey day!

Delicata Squash Salad with Maple Candied PecansDelicata Squash Salad

Makes 4 servings.

Maple Candied Pecans
1 cup raw whole pecans
¼ cup pure maple syrup

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the pecans and maple syrup, stir to coat. Continue to stir the pecans constantly until the maple syrup crystallizes and coats the pecans in a sugary coating. This can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes depending on your heat. Pay close attention to the pecans, careful not to burn, I find it best to cook on low. If the nuts are still sticky and glossy continue cooking and stirring until crystals start to form. Remove from heat, spread the nuts out on a piece of parchment or foil, and let cool completely. Store any unused pecans in an airtight container.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Place first five ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend while slowly pouring in the olive oil, until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more honey if it is bitter.

Salad Fixins
1 delicata squash (approx. size (small/med/large)? Pounds?)
5-ounces baby arugula
1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup maple glazed pecans (recipe below)
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise, then crosswise; scoop out the seeds. Cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick crescents. Toss with one tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little pepper. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Let cool slightly before serving.

To serve: Lightly toss the arugula with desired amount of apple cider vinaigrette. Place a small handful of dressed greens on each plate. Top with roasted delicata squash, cranberries, shaved red onion, maple pecans and goat cheese. Enjoy!

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