I’m a lady who likes routine—I’m totally okay eating the same breakfast every morning and I’m happy to make a big pot of soup and have it for dinner all week long. With a routine, you become more efficient, leaving time for the other things in life (like digging into complicated recipes that take all day!) Some of my preference for pattern probably stems from my time spent in professional kitchens, where you live and breath by the routine that gets you through busy service, but it’s also just a lot easier to repeat the same steps over and over again.
Since I obviously like to cook, however, I try and make my routines as flexible and fun as possible. Lately I’ve been all about the salad prep, making a batch of mix-ins on the weekend that I can toss together for my weekly lunches. The elements change constantly based on my whims and pantry items, but the idea is still the same. Prepare several ingredients on Sunday—roast or shredded veggies, diced fruit, chopped nuts—and you’ll have a bonafide salad bar at home to mix up weekly lunches.
Last week it was this combination of roast squash, chopped mushrooms, and seed brittle—a recipe that is so easy and so genius. Just lightly whip an egg white, toss in any seeds and nuts you have lying around along with some spices and a dash of honey. Spread onto a baking mat and cook until lightly toasted, then cool and crumble. It’s the perfect way to incorporate fun texture into the salad bowl. For an Asian flavor punch, I tossed the squash in Korean chili paste for some nice heat and whipped together a dressing of chili oil, rice wine vinegar, and ginger.
For even more efficient salad prep, pre-chop a few days worth of veggies and lettuce and make a big batch of dressing for the week. That way all you have to do is toss together your lunch each day. What are you going to do with all that time saved?
Roast Squash Salad with Savory Seeded Brittle
Yield: 5 portions
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into cubes
2 tablespoons Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon chili flake
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons water
Chopped kale, arugula, or other salad greens
Chopped cremini mushrooms
For the roast squash: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, toss the chopped squash and chili paste together until the squash is covered. Spread evenly onto a lined baking sheet and roast, 25 to 35 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
For the seed brittle: Reduce oven to 300°F. In a bowl, whisk the egg white until fluffy. Whisk in the honey, lemon zest, chili flake, and a dash of salt, then stir in the seeds. Line a sheet tray with a non-stick mat or parchment paper and spread the seed mixture on top, using the back of a spoon to create an even layer. Bake seed mixture for 10 minutes, rotating once, or until the seeds start to brown and have a toasted aroma. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool, crumble into small pieces.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, rice wine vinegar, chili oil, and sesame oil. (Add a dash of honey for sweetness, if preferred.) Thin out with water as needed. Season well with salt. Store in an airtight jar, refrigerated, for up to one week. Bring refrigerated dressing to room temperature and shake or re-whisk to throughly combine before using.
For the salad: In a medium bowl, toss together 2 tablespoons of the dressing with 3 to 4 ounces of salad greens. Top with a half cup of roasted squash, some chopped mushrooms, and a handful of the seed brittle crumbles.