I’m in a lunch rut. There, I said it. I cannot get into a midday meal groove for the life of me. To be honest, it’s a little embarrassing. When I’m not eating, I’m usually thinking about future recipes and what I’m going to have for my next meal, but I’m coming up blank. I think it’s the weather. Winter is really tough for me, which is part of the reason I’ve moved to California three times.
My favorite way to eat lunch is to throw some cooked pasta and raw veggies in a bowl with tangy dressing. Alas, traditional pasta salad doesn’t really cut it when the temp outside falls below freezing. I’m craving warm meals and seasonal foods, and a girl can only eat so much soup. So, I whipped up a warm pasta salad that packs perfect for lunch and highlights winter’s delicious bounty.
This warm pasta salad is the cold weather version of your favorite potluck side dish. It features roasted squash and Brussels sprouts, apple, dried cranberries, and leafy greens. Of course, no pasta salad is complete without a zippy dressing. The one in this recipe is really simple: just a few pantry staples to let the flavor of the seasonal fruits and veggies shine. I chose a fun wintery pasta shape to stay on theme (snowflakes from Trader Joe’s) but any small shaped pasta will do.
Speaking of shaped pasta, why does it taste so much better than macaroni or rotini? There’s something about the way the sauce gets in stuck all the nooks and crannies. If you don’t have a local Trader Joe’s, I’ve seen really fun winter pasta at World Market. If all else fails, there’s always Amazon. Or, if you’re of the persuasion that shape doesn’t affect the flavor (it totally does) just use whatever you have on hand.
Our Warm Pasta Salad with Winter Greens makes a great pack-and-go lunch for the chilly winter months. I recommend eating it at room temperature or warmed up a bit in the microwave. This warm pasta salad would also be a smash hit at a holiday potluck. To make it gluten-free, just read the labels on the pasta, tahini, and Dijon mustard and purchase a compliant brand.Print
- 4 cups butternut squash, diced into half-inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 cups Brussels sprouts, shredded
- 14 oz. small shaped dry pasta (I used snowflakes from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 apple, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 3 cups winter greens, roughly chopped (baby kale, spinach, arugula, chard, mustard)
- Juice of ½ lemon
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2½ Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp. salt
- Few twists of black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. tahini
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Spill the butternut squash onto a large baking sheet; drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Pour the shredded Brussels sprouts into a bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan of butternut squash in the last 10 minutes of roasting. When done, the squash should be fork tender and the Brussels sprouts should be lightly browned in some spots. Remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Shake the strainer to remove excess moisture and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.
- To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Then whisk in the tahini; adjust the flavors to taste.
- To assemble, add the roasted veggies, diced apple, dried cranberries, and greens to the bowl of pasta. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Add a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature.