Weekday lunches are hard. First, to find the motivation to actually cook rather than buy, and secondly, what to make that’s easy but not a cold salad when the weather is also cold (hello, winter). I find, that if I can make 99% of the ingredients in one fell swoop, it makes me more inclined to actually make a lunch. Especially now that I’m working at home. I hope you find the same is true for you!
So, what does that mean in terms of this recipe? Well:
- Streamlined cooking/ cleanup. The squash, broccoli, and chicken will all be baked at the same temperature together in the oven on 1-2 sheet pans (easy!!)
- Pre-prepped ingredients .Most of the ingredients can be purchased pre-prepped: e.g. bagged brown microwave rice (truly my favorite Trader Joe’s buy), butternut squash (most stores will sell pre-cubed), and broccoli (buy a bag of florets to make it easy on yourself!)
- Simple dressing. The dressing only has one ingredient you may not have on hand (white miso paste) but they sell it at most major grocery stores (Safeway, Von’s, SaveMart, Lucky’s, etc.), online (e.g. Amazon), and at your local Asian grocer (look it up! great way to support small businesses). Most importantly… white miso paste is the dream ingredient you didn’t know you needed and something I feature in a lot of recipes!
- Optimized for meal-prep. As long as you don’t dress this salad, all the ingredients (dressing included!) will stay good in the fridge all week. So it’s a great thing to meal prep Sunday night or Monday and enjoy the fruits (aka pre-made work lunch ingredients) of your labor all week
(Makes 2 servings)
For the miso sauce-
- 1 tbs white miso paste*
- 1.5 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
- 2 tbs water
For the rest-
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and roasted*
- 1.5 tbs olive oil, divided
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cups of preferred greens
- 2 cups brown rice (I buy frozen microwave brown rice that takes 3 min to cook from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Preheat oven to 375. If you are making non-microwave rice, start now so that the timing is aligned. Then, peel your squash, scoop out the inside (see notes for a hack), and chop into cubes. Toss with 1 tbs olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Put on a baking sheet.
- Once oven is preheated, bake squash for 20 min. While baking, toss broccoli in 1/2 tbs oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Rub chicken with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Go easy on the salt– your sauce will be quite salty! After 20 min, add broccoli and chicken to baking tray or on a second one if doesn’t fit. Bake for 25 more min– or until squash is golden, broccoli are turning crispy, and chicken is cooked through (check with knife/fork).
- Meanwhile, make your sauce. Add all ingredients together and let sit (it will thicken). Microwave rice and prepare salad greens in bowls.
- Remove veggies and chicken from oven and assemble salad (if eating immediately). Enjoy!
On the butternut squash serving size: I bought a large one, and it yielded ~4 cups of cubed squash. I only used 2 cups in my salad and saved the other half for meal prep. I’ll let you choose what you do! My philosophy is to cook now while you’re cooking anyways, and reap the benefits later 🙂
On how to best scoop out the inside of your squash: I will admit I had an irrational fear of the inside of gourds till this year (yes, I’m serious). I’ve gotten past it, but still find them incredibly annoying to deal with. I’ve tried knives, grapefruit spoons, forks, ice cream scoopers, etc…. nothing is that great. UNTIL I DISCOVERED THIS HACK: use a 3:1 avocado tool, which you can get on Amazon for under $10. Honestly, it works better for squash than avocado (though it works fine for avocados).
On where to get white miso paste: Pretty much any grocery store! You can find it in the produce section (use Google images beforehand so you have an idea of what you’re looking for). Or, even better, support your local small businesses, and look up your nearest Asian grocer!
What am I listening to as I make this? “when the party’s over” by James Blake
What can I learn while I make this? What exactly is a broccoli floret? It’s a term I hear thrown around a lot without being clear on what makes the cut. Well my friends, WikiHow has my favorite answer: “the florets are the part of the broccoli that appear like tiny trees branching off from the thick, green stem.” I will be referring to broccoli florets as tiny broccoli trees from here on out!
What else can I do with this miso paste you’ve convinced me to buy? Don’t worry– I wasn’t kidding when I said I have a lot of recipes using it! Check out these other ideas below:
Want more Carmel Kama’aina content? Follow me on Instagram. All my latest recipes and behind the scenes tricks are published first on Instagram. Check out this recipe on Instagram, below: