It is cold out. Bitter even. And I am bringing you a salad. Yes, I am. The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my yoga students who was wondering about incorporating more raw greens in her diet, as she always found it a bit challenging in the colder months. She often tucks into a bowl of warm soup as a way to combat the chilly air. On the one hand, I say, have as much soup as you want! They can be nutrient-dense, filling, and each spoonful feels like a little hug. Have you tried my Broccoli and Curried Carrot Soups yet?! On the other hand, I know exactly what she means about wanting a break from soft textures and homey flavors. The body begins to crave brightness, crunch, and tang. With shorter days, energy levels drop and the mind becomes a little dull. A bowl of soup can certainly make us feel grounded, but what we need is some energizing, something to give us a little pep in the step.
This salad bridges a little bit of both worlds, keeping us rooted with earthy squash and keeping us light and alert with zingy citrus and greens. Cubes of roasted butternut squash get tangled in crunchy cabbage, bright and fresh Asian herbs, and tart and tangy orange slivers. A lime and ginger vinaigrette bring it all together, packing just a hint of spiciness to keep all of the taste buds on their toes and to open up the sinuses in case you are starting to feel a case of the winter time blues.
Cara Cara oranges have the prettiest pink lemonade hue and a subtle tartness that you would not find in most oranges such as a navel or Valencia. However, any orange will do, but I encourage you to give the Cara Cara oranges a try if you have not already. I also suggest a small grapefruit as a substitute, but it will offer a bit more tang. This is delicious as a side dish or as a starter, but I ate it as a lunch one day by tossing in half an avocado, some cooked chicken that I had on hand, and some brown rice.
Cara Cara and Ginger Cabbage Salad
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" cubes or 2 cups roasted cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 small head green cabbage, sliced or shredded thinly (6 cups shredded)
1/4 ounce fresh mint leaves, roughly torn (about 1/4 cup loosely packed)
1/2 ounce fresh basil leaves, roughly torn (about 1/2 cup loosely packed), Thai basil preferred
1 large handful fresh cilantro, roughly torn (about 1 cup loosely packed)
1 Cara Cara orange, peeled, separated into segments, and thinly sliced (**see note below**)
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
salt and pepper, to taste
Ginger and Lime Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely grated or finely minced
1/5 jalapeno, finely grated on microplane or finely minced..can add more if you like spicy
1 teaspoon honey
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other neutral-tasting oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Roast butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat, toss butternut squash with oil and some salt, and place in single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, soak onion slices. Soak thinly sliced onion in bowl of cold water for 5-10 minutes to reduce sharp bite. Drain and set aside.
Prepare vinaigrette. Add all of ingredients to jar, seal, and shake to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add cabbage to large bowl, toss with Ginger and Lime Vinaigrette, massaging dressing gently into cabbage. Toss in drained onions, cooked butternut squash, herbs, orange pieces, and peanuts, tossing everything to combine. Allow to sit at least 20 minutes for flavors to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy! Makes 4-6 servings as a starter or side dish.
**Note: Cara Cara oranges are a beautiful coral pink color and are slightly more tart than a sweet navel or Valencia orange. If you cannot find a Cara Cara orange, feel free to substitute any orange or even a small grapefruit in its place.