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Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds and Sage
Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds and Sage Photo courtesy of Stan Lee/Roadside Eats

We’ve never been too fond of plain Jane couscous (shh...don’t tell our vegetarian supper-club friends). But then Los Angeles chef Jessica Christensen went and completely changed our minds with this colorful couscous salad. At the new L.A. restaurant Roadside Eats, the chef smartly cooks the grain in a fruity “broth” made from cranberry and orange juices to give it a sweet-tart flavor. Crunchy pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, fresh sage and beautifully caramelized cubes of butternut squash complete a salad that’s absolutely perfect for fall.

Makes 4 servings (about 4 cups)

½ cup whole-grain couscous

¾ cup dried cranberries

¼ small yellow onion, finely chopped

Zest of ½ orange

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup unsweetened cranberry juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons sherry vinegar

1½ teaspoons packed dark-brown sugar

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

½ cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ small butternut squash--peeled, seeded and cut into ¼-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

3 sage leaves, thinly sliced

1. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the couscous with the cranberries, onion and orange zest. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the orange juice with the cranberry juice, olive oil, sherry vinegar and ¼ cup water. Add the sugar, mustard, salt and cinnamon stick, then bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to combine. When the liquid comes to a boil, pour it over the couscous, stir to combine and cover tightly with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium cast-iron skillet set over high heat, warm the canola oil. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

4. Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl of couscous and discard the cinnamon stick. (The couscous will still be slightly moist.) Stir in the butternut squash, pumpkin seeds and sage leaves. Season to taste with salt, and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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