Blog Archive

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette
by Victoria Challancin

Over the holidays I enjoyed the best meal at the home of my friend Judie that I have ever eaten in San Miguel.  Exquisite, from soup (Cream of Chestnut) to dessert (Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta with Homemade Quince Preserves).  To go with the Roasted Leg of Lamb with Preserved Lemon Pan Sauce, Judie prepared a raw butternut squash salad with a sage vinaigrette.   Heaven!  I had never eaten butternut squash raw and was captivated.  I knew it would appear on my table or in a cooking class soon.  And yesterday it did!

I just began a new cooking course designed to teach healthy, fresh international recipes to Mexican cooks.  I chose this butternut squash salad because a) the combination of ingredients sounded good and b)  I had a lovely jug of maple syrup in my fridge.  That's how recipes are born in my house...Did the combination of maple and cinnamon work?  Yes.  In fact, it was as interesting as I thought it would be, but in the end, I might prefer a sharper dressing.  Still...with the Charmoula-Roasted Pork with Roasted Vegetables...well, it was rather inspired, I thought.

Once I had decided to make this salad, I started Googling for recipe ideas.  I found that in November Mark Bittman had posted a recipe for Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Raisins and Ginger.    Nice, I thought.  Then I discovered this Root Vegetable Salad with Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette from the Choosing Raw blog.  My final recipe reflects a combination of both of these.

This recipe is just a starting point, as most recipes are.  Variations are limitless.  Make it French by using a garlicky-mustard vinaigrette and a bit of parsley.  Italian?  Perhaps some sun-dried tomatoes, a sharp vinaigrette, and a bit of shaved Parmesan or other cheese.  Greek?  Feta cheese and an oregano vinaigrette.  Mexican?  Add some grated jícama, diced raw nopal cactus, and a creamy vinaigrette with a touch of chile.  Moroccan?  Dress it with chermoula (also spelled "charmoula") and a bit of preserved lemon.  Middle Eastern?  Sumac, mint, parsley, with a tahini-based dressing.  Provençal?  Add some tapenade,  anchoiade, capers, and olives.  Japanese?  Add some daikon and a sesame-soy-ginger vinaigrette.  Thai? A touch of curry paste mixed with oil and rice vinegar.  Indian?  Add some garam masala or homemade curry blend and a touch of oil--and chiles! Variations?  Truly limitless.  Just use your imagination.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette

(Recipe adapted from and inspired by Mark Bittman's Salad and's Vinaigrette)

Yield: 4 servings.
Note:  I am combining two recipes, using Bittman’s basic instructions, but changing the vinaigrette.  I ate this recently at a friend’s house with a lovely sage vinaigrette that worked beautifully.

1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and seeded
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint  (I used cilantro)

Grate the squash using the larges holes of a box grater.  Combine the squash, dried cranberries, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Add vinaigrette to taste. Toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro; serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.

Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette
(Slightly adapted from a recipe from, made for a roasted vegetable salad)
 (Yields about 1 cup)

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (start with two)
¼ cup grade B maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add a small amount of additional water to thin, if necessary--but it probably won't be.

Possible substitutions:  If you don't have maple syrup, use grated piloncillo —use a bit less.  The original recipe used olive oil and flax seed oil.


If this raw vegetable salad inspires you, check out other raw vegetable salad recipes I have posted:

Raw Broccoli Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette
Raw Turnip Salad with Apples and Lemon Dressing
Raw Kohlrabi Remoulade
Chard and Mozzarella Salad

Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


Dimah said...

Oh, wow, the combo of all of these things looks absolutely mouthwatering!

Ben said...

OK, two things... I had never had raw butternut squash and I hadn't seen then in Mexico. Where do you buy them? I really wanna try this recipe and I want to take your course. It sounds very informative.

Blu3yy said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe!
I've never had raw butternut but really enjoyed it and everyone else enjoyed it so much. Everyone was really surprised at how lovely, tasty and wholesome raw veg taste.

Everyone except me liked the salad dressing - and only because I felt the cinnamon was a bit overpowering - I would make it again and again, but just ease off on the cinnamon.

I made my Salad with raw butternut, one raw carrot and a quarter sweet potato.

Ohterwise!! GREAT Recipe, thank you so much - you've opened my path to raw veg.

Thanks, Strauss
(Cape Town, South Africa)