This recipe comes from Chef Eileen Quinn. She did her culinary training in the Caribbean, and went on to own the Cabana Bar and Grille in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. After moving to this area, she began a personal chef and catering business, Dinner at 8, and served as resident chef at the Good Gourmet Cooking School. Recently, Chef Eileen was given the opportunity to cater for Candice Olson, host of “Divine Design” on HGTV. A retired schoolteacher, she continues to teach culinary classes in Indiana and Michigan.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup couscous (choose large pearl type, sometimes called Israeli couscous)
2 pounds acorn or butternut squash, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
¼ cup honey (try an artisan honey, such as lavender)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup white dried cranberries
2 cups fresh spinach, chiffonade (cut into wide ribbons)
½ cup toasted pistachios or pine nuts
Bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Gradually add the couscous, stirring as you go. Return to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile: In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add cubed squash. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring often, for about 6 minutes, or until caramelized and crispy. Add the fresh sage and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the honey and vinegar until warm.
Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and twist of pepper. Remove from the heat, and add the cranberries.
Fluff the couscous with a fork, being careful not to break up the individual grains.
Toss together the couscous, the squash and the spinach ribbons. Add dressing to your preference. Top with nuts and a few more cranberries. Season with salt and a healthy grind of pepper.
If you are transporting this salad to another location, wait to add the spinach and the dressing until serving.
Makes about 6 cups and will serve 10.