Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad with Honey Thyme Dressing

Can ya'll believe we're about to close out on 2016?!

One of the most notoriously "bad" years is finally coming to an end (anyone else just a little bit annoyed at all of the blaming 2016 has received?). Sure, it's been a crappy year - one of the most historically tense presidential elections ended with an orange in the office and a lot of people fearful for the future. We lost a lot of powerful and iconic household names, experienced some of the most devastating hateful attacks around the world, lived through some of the HOTTEST days in record history, and that's just to name a few.

But...but was it really all that bad? Sure, I may be speaking from the comfort of my bed on my Friday off before the new year. My hair is washed and my apartment is clean (maybe?). But regardless of that, sometimes I think our hyper-connectivity allows us all to focus on all the crazy and all the bad, often in a pursuit to make ourselves feel better. If we look back, 2016 wasn't all that bad: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was more than just a freezing way to raise awareness, Hilary Clinton won the popular (she may not have won the election, but this proves that we've come a long way), 6 year old Alex's letter to President Obama welcoming Syrian refugees to his home, Jalen's reaction to the animals in his zoology class, and Leo's final break into Oscar-winner territory. And, this is just to name a few...

For me, 2016 was definitely a doozy. I started this blog (!!), found out my zodiac sign changed (capricorn forever), my Beet Sandwich was selected for a Pacific Foods #nourisheverybody contest, I finally made it to Patagonia, made it back to Lake Tahoe with my family for the first time in 5 years, walked 39.3 miles and raised over $1500 in the name of breast cancer, dyed my hair bleach blonde, and turned 26 on the 26th. All of these exciting moments were littered with weekend getaways, morning hikes, and endless laughter with friends, family, and loved ones. I had a few shitty moments, sure, but when I look back, I don't see those.

2016 closed out, as it does every year, at home with my family for the Christmas holiday. I had a few days off of work and used that time to catch up with family and friends, watch endless Christmas movies, and eat. The weekend was filled with delicious food from homemade enchiladas on Christmas Eve (not exactly festive...but I could care less because they are BOMB), my attempt at a homemade (healthy) caramelized onion dip, slow roasted duck, and this salad.

I'm always on veggie duty for Christmas dinner, which sounds like a bore, but considering I truly love vegetables, this is my favorite challenge. Nothing excites me more than when less-enthused veggie eaters tell you how amazing they think your dish is. Or, when an entire spread is covered with meats, potatoes, cheeses, etc., but some how the salad plate is cleared first. Not to toot my own horn, but that's exactly what this salad accomplished this year. So much so, I was forced to quickly text my sister a gist of the recipe before she boarded her flight so she could make lunch this week.

With four simple ingredients and a deliciously sweet dressing, this salad comes together with minimal effort. You simply roast the squash, whisk together your dressing, and toss it all together. You don't even need to put down your glass of wine!

Serving Size - 4 side portions

Ingredients:

2 cups butternut squash, cubed

1/2 bag arugula (about 3 cups)

1/4 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

squeeze of lemon

Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp fresh thyme

1/4 tsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425°.

2. Toss the cubed squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and evenly spread out squash on sheet.

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing once or twice, until squash is soft and slightly browned.

4. Meanwhile, add the arugula, feta, and pomegranate seeds to a large mixing bowl. Lightly season with a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a little bit of salt and pepper (this is a pre-seasoning salad trick I learned this weekend).

5. Once the squash is done, remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.

6. Add in the squash to the bowl, drizzle with as much dressing as you prefer, and toss to combine. Divide among 4 salad plates and serve!

#veggie #salad #butternutsquash #pomegranate #feta #2016 #christmas #holiday #party #dinner #arugula #vegetarian

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