Butternut Squash, Cranberry & Chickpea Couscous Salad
I first tasted this amazing dish at a great restaurant in DC*: Nando’s Peri-Peri. Nando’s started in South Africa in 1987, and has locations all over the world; sadly, none in New England (they’re only in the DC/Maryland/Virginia areas for now). Their restaurants are all really funky and eclectic, which adds to the eating experience.My friend and I were visiting a grad school classmate in DC, and she and her boyfriend raved about this place. Nando’s is known for its Portuguese-style chicken and Peri-Peri hot sauce, and while we indulged in the specialty, this salad was my hands-down favorite dish at Nando’s. I loved it so much, I went online to find the recipe to re-create it!
This is what I ended up with, and it may even be better than the original, in my opinion. I think the dressing is what truly makes this dish, and if you let the dish sit overnight (making it perfect for lunch the next day!), the flavors intensify and make it out-of-this-world good.
This recipe is also a perfect fall dish, bringing together great tastes of the season—butternut squash, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander.
Bom Proveito! (Enjoy your meal!)
*It was my first time visiting DC, and I loved it! I even got to see Julia Child’s kitchen (see the picture below), at the Museum of American History!
Julia Child's Kitchen
- 1 medium butternut squash (or other hard winter squash), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup couscous (Israeli/pearl or regular)
- 1-1¼ cups water
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 can garbanzo beans–drained
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 7 tablespoons white wine vinegar, plus 2 tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons olive oil , plus 1 tablespoon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Zest of one orange
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1-3 teaspoons salt–to taste
- 1 bag of baby spinach
- 2 oz goat cheese
- ½ cup walnuts-coarsely chopped and toasted
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss squash with a bit of olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Spinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast squash, stirring occasionally, until tender – -about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool before combining with other ingredients.
- Sauté onion in a skillet over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside and allow to cool.
- If making regular couscous: Heat water in sauce pan to boiling. Add cous cous and stir. Remove pan from heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for about 15 minutes until the cous cous has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- If making Israeli/pearl couscous: Add cous cous to dry sauce pan to toast, stirring occasionally for ~5 minutes. Add boiling water, lower heat and simmer, covered, until the water has been absorbed, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and set aside, uncovered.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, zest, spices, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- In a large bowl, combine squash, onions, chickpeas, and cranberries.
- Pour on the vinegar-oil dressing and stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for ~5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In another large bowl, place the baby spinach.
- Drizzle with 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss to coat.
- Top spinach with couscous and the squash mixture.
- Top everything with toasted walnuts and goat cheese.