Squash and chickpea salad with orange, ginger and black pepper dressing (or how to eat four portions of fruit and veg in one go)

by sophie on June 23, 2008 · 18 comments

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Last week while I was busy not blogging I got predictably excited about an idea on Culinate for a breakfast salad.  The said salad can be prepared the evening before, kicking the day off to a great start with two portions of veg taken care of before even leaving the house

But the real world doesn’t always pan out like that and this weekend has been one of those weekends.  Suddenly it’s four o’clock on Sunday afternoon and my total fruit and veg consumption for the day has been a handful of dried fruit at breakfast (one portion down, at least four to go).

Big salads are the perfect cure to a day of vegetable dodging and have an endearing way of combining the best of all culinary worlds: raw and cooked, spicy and sweet, hot and cold.  This roast squash and chickpea salad is delicious and the perfect catch-up job; four portions of veg in one dish.  Definitely make the full quantities of the roast squash and marinated chickpeas even if you aren’t feeding four people and you will magically find yourself the owner of a ready made lunch to take to work the next day.

The recipe does have a few stages to it but there’s no rush; this is one of those good-natured recipes that will fit in happily around whatever else you might be up to.  I made the dressing and put the chickpeas in to marinade at about 3pm and then went off to sort out some paperwork.  I peeled and diced the squash and sliced the onion late afternoon before settling down to a bit of light blogging, finally roasting the squash and slow cooking the onions just before we wanted to eat.  With all of the prep done the actual cooking part seemed pretty trivial.


Orange, ginger and black pepper dressing

So how have I added these ingredients up to provide four portions?  Here’s how much a portion of each of these veggies is considered to be:

Spinach – 1 cereal bowl
Onion – 1 medium onion
Butternut squash – 1 cup*
Chickpeas – 3 heaped tablespoons

* there is no “official” value for butternut squash so I’m using the rule of thumb of 80g per portion, so about a cup full.

A serving of the recipe will contain a portion of spinach, a portion of chickpeas, a little over 1 portion of the butternut squash and a little under one portion for the onions.  I haven’t counted the orange juice in the dressing (in case you are wondering) as there isn’t really enough to count – the dressing by the way was inspired by A Life Time of Cooking’s take on an Elizabeth David recipe.

A bowl of plump British raspberries with orange and lemon greek yogurt for dessert takes me up to six portions for the day (including the dried fruit from breakfast).  Not perfect (it is so easy to forget that the five a day message is intended to be a minimum) but a much more nutritious day than it was shaping up to be.

More squash and pumpkin recipes on Mostly Eating
Comforting butternut squash and red lentil dal
Butternut squash, oat and ginger cake bites
Oven-baked Butternut Squash and Rosemary Risotto

Recipe for Squash and chickpea salad with orange, ginger and black pepper dressing

For a vegan version of this salad just leave out the goats cheese and add more hazelnuts. Make sure that you taste the dressing just in case you get a particularly bitter orange (easily rectified with a bit of honey)
Serves about 4


1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
A big armful of washed baby leaf spinach
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons hazelnuts
100g soft goats cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the dressing
Zest and juice of one orange
A thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the dressing, grate the ginger straight into a large bowl so that you catch all of the juices. Add to this the zest and juice of the orange and copious amounts of black pepper. Stir the chickpeas into the dressing and leave to marinade for a couple of hours if you have time.

Prepare the squash into peeled cubes and toss it in a little olive oil, black pepper and a tiny pinch of salt.

Cook the red onions in a small frying pan on a very low heat for about 30 minutes so that they gently caramelise.

All of the above stages can be done in advance (the onion will need reheating briefly).

Just before you are ready to eat, roast the cubes of squash on a baking tray in a medium oven for about 35 minutes, turning once.

Place a good couple of handfuls of spinach in each bowl. Dish out the cubes of squash evenly. Spoon out the chickpeas then pour any leftover dressing across the bowls. Give it all a toss together. Top with the hazelnuts, goats cheese and hot caramelised onions.

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