This past weekend I hosted a Summer’s over, it’s almost Fall, Girls Night In! The weather completely cooperated and we had sunny skies and crisp high 60 degree temperatures! Hosting a girls night in is one of my favorite ways to kick off the cooler Autumn season…I get to unpack all of my Fall home decor, place big beautiful mums on my front porch, and test out some new Fall flavored recipes for my blog – recipes that are preferably made with either butternut squash or pumpkin! These Ladies were fabulous guinea pigs for three new recipes I was testing – the first being this Autumn Butternut Squash Couscous salad.
This Autumn Butternut Squash Couscous salad is made with Israeli (or Pearl) Couscous – a fabulous grain that really eats more like an al dente pasta. Once the couscous is made you can set it aside to cool to room temperature and focus on the star ingredients of this salad – butternut squash and fennel! Cubed butternut squash, yummy licorice tasting fennel, and shallots are sautéed together before adding sage, dried cranberries, currants, and apple juice. An apple cider dressing is tossed into the salad after combining the couscous, veggies, and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
You can serve this salad warm or chilled. I would recommend allowing the flavors to meld together for 30 minutes before serving. The longer it “marinates” in the fridge the tastier the salad becomes!
- 8 ounces Israeli or Pearl couscous, about 1 ½ cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 fennel bulb, diced
- 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 1 1/2 cups apple juice, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooked juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- Bring water to boil in a medium size saucepan, add couscous and bring back to a boil then lower to medium and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, but do not rinse. Set aside in a mixing bowl to cool.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add diced fennel and cook for another 5 minutes or until fennel softens. Add butternut squash, sage, cranberries, currants and apple juice and cook for 15 minutes or until butternut squash has softened and almost all of the apple juice has cooked down. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the couscous, reserving about 1/4 cup of the apple juice for the vinaigrette.
- In a small bowl, mix the reserved apple juice, canola oil, red wine vinegar and more salt and pepper to taste. Add to the coucous with the parsley and stir. Let coucous sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for flavors to meld before serving.