November 24, 2012

Roasted Spiced Buttercup Squash and Chicken Salad

A friend and I invented this recipe when I was at his place for dinner. His family owns an organic farm from which he got a big beautiful buttercup squash for us to experiment with. It was my first time having buttercup squash, but somehow I managed to season it just right on my first try! I'm finally starting to get the hang of this spice-mixing thing.

This salad is absolutely bursting with color and flavor, and it's hearty enough to be an entire meal in itself! Vegetarians or vegans can substitute chopped roasted walnuts for the chicken. Just soak the walnuts, wash them and spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast them in the oven at 310°F until they smell perfect.

Roasted Spiced Buttercup Squash and Chicken Salad

  • 1 buttercup squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chicken (a mix of dark meat and light meat is best)
  • lettuce
  • very thinly sliced red onion
  • sprouts (we used sunflower sprouts - sesame sprouts would be another excellent choice)
  • tahini sauce
Buttercup squash seasoning:
  • 5 parts paprika
  • 5 parts cumin
  • 2 parts cinnamon
  • 1 part cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • plenty of unrefined sea salt or rock salt
Chicken seasoning:
  • 5 parts paprika
  • 3 parts black pepper
  • 2 parts dried thyme
  • 1 part cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • plenty of unrefined sea salt or rock salt


  1. Preheat oven to 380°F.
  2. Put your chicken in a small glass baking dish, like this one. Rub the chicken seasoning into the chicken. Put the lid on the baking dish and put the chicken in the oven.
  3. Peel the buttercup squash with a sturdy vegetable peeler or paring knife. The skin can be left on if you like - it's quite tasty and softens up a lot when you roast it, but we took it off when we made this! Cut buttercup squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Slice the squash into strips, about 1/2in thick, and then cut the strips into cubes.
  4. Pour some olive oil into a mixing bowl (about 1 Tbsp per pound of squash). Dump all your cubed buttercup squash into the mixing bowl, and sprinkle plenty of the buttercup squash seasoning on top. Toss the buttercup squash around in the mixing bowl until it's all evenly coated in the spices.
  5. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet and put it in the oven along with the chicken.
  6. While those are baking, you can arrange your lettuce, onion and sprouts onto plates and prepare your tahini sauce.
  7. The squash is done when it's very soft and a fork or knife slides into it easily, about 20 mins. The chicken is done when there's not a trace of pink left (cut it open and check), about 30-40 mins.
  8. Before adding the chicken to your salad, cut it into pieces and toss the pieces with even more of the chicken seasoning until they are generously coated.
  9. Put the squash and chicken pieces on the salad, drizzle on some tahini dressing and dig in!!

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