Most salads just don’t cut it for me when it comes to lunch. I still feel hungry and typically find myself rewarding my “healthy lunch” with cookies to fill the void in the afternoon, offsetting any healthy gains I thought I was making. Not to mention, leaky salad dressing making a mess of my containers (or worse, my backpack!) is not fun. Read on to learn how to meal prep this salad with all the flavour but none of the leaking. With hearty acorn squash, farro, pumpkin seeds and a few slices of aged goat cheese, this salad is satisfying and delicious. Oh, and pretty good for you, too!
The recipe does involve a few steps and isn’t the quickest to make, but the final product is so delicious and a great way to fuel your body for a healthy week. If you’re short on time, you could cut out the pumpkin seeds, but I absolutely LOVE them and find them totally worth the couple of extra steps. To begin, toss raw pumpkin seeds with lemon juice, salt and a bit of cayenne pepper. (I know, lemon juice seems weird when you want to roast the seeds and make them crunchy, right? But trust me it provides a lovely zing and makes them irresistible for snacking.)
Roast in the oven and the raw green seeds transform into golden brown, crispy snacks. Good thing there’s extra so you can munch on these while you make the rest of the salad 🙂
Next, prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (or just use a light coating of olive oil on a baking sheet if you don’t have parchment—mainly I find the parchment helps speed up the cleanup afterwards). Place slices of acorn squash on top (with a light coating of olive oil, salt and pepper). Roast until golden and tender when pierced with a knife.
Then, whip up the dressing. Apple cider, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and seasoning blend together to create a tart dressing for the farro to offset the sweetness of the squash.
While the squash is in the oven, cook the farro. Farro is a really healthy grain that’s great to add to your regular diet. It’s higher in fibre than many other whole grains—twice the amount found in quinoa, and three times the fibre of rice. Cook according to the package directions. I cook mine like pasta, using more water than needed and draining once cooked, which usually takes about 30 minutes. You’ll want to let it cool a bit before dividing it among four lunch containers, spreading it out to cover the bottoms. Then, spoon the dressing overtop and stir it into the grains. This is the secret to avoid leaking—the farro absorbs much of the dressing and also keeps it from making the arugula layer soggy.
Next, layer the roasted squash. Finally, top with arugula and cheese slices.
To avoid the pumpkin seeds losing their crunch , I wrap them into four little plastic wrap bundles separately, and then add them onto the salad right before eating. If you are able to get a plate at your office, I like to remove the lid from the container, place the plate upside down onto the container and flip it, so that the lettuce is on the bottom of the plate and the grains are on top, and then stir it all together. You want to stir the layers just before eating to ensure the flavours of the dressing and farro interact with the arugula and squash. If you want to eat this right out of the container I suggest using one that’s a bit larger so you have room to stir everything up.
Don’t forget to sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds before eating like I do half the time! If you forget, no worries, they make a great snack on their own. Invest some time in yourself this week and stock your fridge with containers of Acorn Squash Farro Salad for lunches!
Lunch Prep Acorn Squash Farro Salad
A satisfying salad that won't leave you hungry, with instructions on how to prep this for lunches you can bring to work without any leaking or sogginess!
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- sea salt
- 1 acorn squash, seeded and cut into 1/3" slices
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup cooked farro, cooled
- 6 oz arugula leaves, or arugula baby spinach mix
- 6 oz aged goat cheese, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh apple cider
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 300°. Toss seeds with lemon juice, cayenne and sea salt to taste. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Flip/stir the pumpkin seeds and bake another 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove from oven and cool.
Increase oven temperature to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and add acorn squash slices. Spray with a light coating of olive oil (if you don't have olive oil spray, toss with approx 1 tbsp olive oil) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden at the edges and soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Cook Farro according to package directions, and allow to cool.
Make dressing: combine apple cider, cider vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil until blended.
Once the farro is cool enough, divide it among four lunch containers spreading the grains to fill the bottom. Spoon the dressing over the farro and stir to combine. Add acorn squash in a layer on top, dividing between the four containers. Finally top with arugula and goat cheese slices. Seal and store in the fridge up to four days.
Wrap four bundles of roasted pumpkin seeds in plastic wrap to take with the packaged lunch containers. To serve, either stir up in the container and top with pumpkin seeds right before eating, or invert onto a plate, stir, toss pumpkin seeds on top and enjoy!
Note: recipe adapted from Roasted Acorn and Delicata Squash Salad on Epicurious.