an in-between broccoli and butternut salad (with miso-turmeric dressing)
September snuck in slowly, under the disguise of a 90-degree heat wave that made stepping outside feel sticky and surreal. I was living in a state of in-between, still craving the crunchy coldness of a solid summery salad, while simultaneously pining for the warming flavors of autumn, and a cozy afternoon with a warm cup of tea, the oven on, slowly roasting all the things. There was a heightened sense of time standing still, the awareness of a change coming without yet seeing it, like the early morning moment of waking in the dark, knowing that the sun is waiting for you, just below the horizon.
This salad was born from that in-between feeling, and also from my penchant to throw together whatever little bits of edible thing I have lying around on a hot, lazy weeknight when I all I wanted to eat (per usual) was a bowl of salad the size of my head. It's not fancy, or particularly pleasant to look at, but it hits all the crispy-crunchy, sweet-salty-spicy notes that any proper salad bowl should. My devotion to mayo-based broccoli salads runs deep, and this iteration left my confused brain thoroughly excited and satisfied. The combination of cooked and raw veg might seem weird at first, but I promise the combo is killer (IMHO), and the perfect amalgamation of summer and fall.
For the salad:
• 3 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil
• cinnamon, for sprinkling
• 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
• 1 apple, chopped into small chunks
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
• 1/3–1/2 cup (about 1 large handful) toasted coconut flakes (see NOTE)
For the dressing:
• 2 tbsp. coconut cream (or full fat coconut milk from a can)
• 3 tbsp. good quality, full fat mayo
• 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp. light/mellow miso
• 2 tsp. dark maple syrup
• 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
• 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated or very finely chopped
• 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
• salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400° F. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss the butternut squash with the coconut oil, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and kosher salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until starting to get brown and tender. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the salad. Alternatively, you could cook the squash ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass jar, top with the lid, and shake until dressing is fully mixed and emulsified. You could also whisk it well in a medium-sized bowl, but the shaking method seems way more fun.
In a large bowl, combine cooled butternut squash, and remaining salad ingredients. Pour the prepared dressing over, and toss until everything is well-coated and combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and top with additional coconut flakes, chopped cashews, or dried cranberries to your liking. Serve immediately, though salad holds up well over a couple days in the fridge. Savor the passage of time.