Chilled Winter Squash Salad with Garam Masala, Walnut, and Coconut

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Initially I was going to make baked squash like my mom used to. We would have Acorn squash, halved, baked with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The closest thing to acorn sqaush in Guate is qüicoy, but the taste is very similar. But from there it took a very different turn. In place of cinnamon I used Garam Masala, and I added apples and carrots to the mix, and because I had to run some errands and then later forgot about the veggies, it turned into a cold salad with yogurt dressing. Somehow toasted coconut and walnuts ended up being tossed in at the very last minute, adding rich flavors and textures that complimented the salad beautifully. I really think they make it so spectacular.

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I imagine some chopped dates or raisins would add a nice texture and natural sweetness as well, and for certain sweet potato is another veggie that fits in with squash carrots and apple.

This is a cool yet rich, filling salad that finishes with a strong kick — nice on a late-summer’s evening. But I wonder how the yogurt would hold up if this were served warm. Something to consider for the upcoming fall/winter season.

Also, I hesitated to post the picture because in all truth I don’t find the appearance appetizing. Too many browns, too sticky of a texture. Martha Stewart probably coulda’ made it look much better. But please imagine the caramelized flavors of the veggies mixing together with the rich spices and nuts, all held together in a lovely creamy texture. Please give this a try – if you like the old fashioned roasted squash, I think you’ll like this.

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Ingredients:
1 medium sized winter squash, cubed
1 large carrot, cubed
2 apples, cubed
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon garam masala
.5 teaspoon large grain salt, more or less
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Roast the veggies with butter in the oven until tender, about 45 minutes at 350. Allow to cool to at least room temperature. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts and coconut until golden, and set aside keeping them dry. Whisk together the yogurt, honey, garam masala. When the veggies are cool, add them to the yogurt mixture and stir until coated. Add salt a little at a time, and adjust to balance. Just before serving mix in the coconut and walnuts.

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