Monday, November 11, 2013

goat cheese, chicken, squash, pecan, & pomegranate salad

I woke up this morning already overwhelmed by the mad dash that happens from Halloween until the end of the holiday season.

I'm baking a red velvet cake for my mother's birthday today, which is this Saturday.  In the weeks that follow, I'll be starting a new rotation, celebrating my mother's, my sister Stephanie's, and my dad's birthdays, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas.  In between studying and celebrating, I'm still hoping to get some homemade Christmas projects done (thank goodness I've already got my vanilla extract steeping, though).

In between studying and celebrating, I'm still hoping to get some homemade Christmas projects done (thank goodness I've already got my vanilla extract steeping, though).  Good thing one Christmas gift project is already well underway...

Before rushing into all that holiday cheer, though, I'm preparing myself by adding this salad to my weeknight dinner repertoire.   This is an easy and festively red and green meal; it doesn't take long to sear the chicken and the squash, and, after that, all you have to do is pile everything on a plate.

Makes 2 to 3 big dinner-sized salads with plenty of chicken to spare

Canola oil
1 lb to 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt & pepper
1 acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2 to 1/4-inch thick rings
1 pomegranate with arils removed
Mixed greens (I used a 5 oz bag of mixed spring greens)
Handful of pecans
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

  1. Prepare the squash:  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Coat with a small amount of canola oil.  Season the squash rings generously with salt and pepper and brown sugar and then add them to the skillet.  Cook until golden on each side; you can estimate that it will take you about 5 minutes per side to achieve this color.
  2. Prepare the chicken thighs:  Cut any fat off the chicken thighs.  Season both sides of all thighs generously with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium.  Add a generous amount of canola oil.  Cook chicken until no longer pink on the inside, flipping regularly.  Remove from skillet when finished and shred.
  3. Prepare the pomegranate vinaigrette:  In a container with a lid (I used a mason jar), combine the pomegranate juice, garlic, grated ginger, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Shake well to combine.  Be sure to shake again before serving.
  4. Assemble the salad:  Divide the greens between two plates.  Cover each salad with the squash rings, chicken, the pomegranate arils, pecans, and fresh goat cheese.  Serve drizzled with the pomegranate vinaigrette.
Adopted from How Sweet Eats, Dinner was Delicious, and my favorite salad how-to.