Here's a fresh, wholesome, and vibrant butternut squash salad that is great as an appetizer or side dish and easily upgradeable to a tasty main dish by adding chickpeas.
Crispy leafy greens, tangy green apples, and slightly caramelized butternut squash make the base of this colorful and delicious salad. Drizzle it with a creamy maple mustard dressing for a delightful golden finish.
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Roasted butternut squash salad is a delicious meal and side dish from the beginning of autumn to the end of winter when butternut squash is in season.
It's excellent for holidays and special meals such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the recipe is so easy to put together that you can have it any other day.
The salad has a perfect balance of textures and flavors.
The buttery-tender roasted butternut squash is the predominant ingredient, wrapped in a perfect harmony of savory, sweet, nutty, sour, tangy, and aromatic flavors from the other ingredients.
Take this recipe as a guideline and add your favorite ingredients, remembering to mix different textures and flavors. As usual, substitutions are provided below.
Try to get a mix of lettuces, also known as salad greens, with different colors and textures.
For example, we like combining arugula (dark green, peppery, spicy, tasty, and crisp texture) with butterhead or coral lettuce (bright green and sometimes red, with a delicate taste).
You can also use iceberg lettuce, radicchio, endive, watercress, little gem, looseleaf, escarole, frisée, mesclun, and romaine lettuce.
You can get cubes of butternut squash a the store, or get a whole one, peel it, and dice it yourself.
Substitute butternut squash with sweet potatoes or any other variety of winter squash, like kabocha squash, pumpkin, acorn squash, and more.
Since butternut squash has a mildly sweet taste and a soft texture, we like to pair it with tangy and crisp green apples like Granny Smith.
Substitute any other apples for green apples, but we recommend that they are crisp.
You can also substitute pears for apples. They are a little sweater but taste fantastic in this roasted butternut squash salad.
Pecans add a wonderful crunch and nutty taste to this salad.
Substitute walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios for pecans.
You can add pumpkin, sunflower, or other mixed seeds instead of nuts.
Tip: if you want to enhance the nuts' flavor, you can toast them for a couple of minutes in a dry small saucepan or nonstick pan, or you can toast them in the oven at 350°C or 180°C for 5 to 7 minutes.
Sour and a little sweet, dried cranberries fit perfectly with the other ingredients in this butternut squash salad.
Substitute pomegranate seeds, raisins, or other dried fruit like dates, apricots, figs, and plums for dried cranberries.
Chickpeas are optional. You don't need to add chickpeas if you serve the salad as a side dish.
We recommend adding drained and rinsed canned chickpeas if you serve the salad for lunch or as a main.
Feta cheese or dairy-free feta
Crumbled feta cheese or its dairy-free alternatives add a delicious salty, milky, and creamy flavor and texture that makes the butternut squash salad extra delicious.
Substitute feta with ricotta or dairy-free ricotta, shaved parmesan cheese (not grated parmesan), pecorino, or your favorite goat cheese.
Note: we like this salad without onions; however, if you want to add some oniony flavor, we recommend thinly sliced shallots or green onions.
We use our olive oil-based maple mustard dressing but substitute cumin for garlic here because it complements the other ingredients perfectly.
To make it, you'll need extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup or honey, American mustard or Dijon mustard, ground cumin, sea salt or kosher salt, and black pepper.
Want to try a different dressing?
Butternut squash salad is also delicious with our:
- Tahini sauce: (tahini, lemon, water, garlic, salt).
- Carrot ginger dressing: (carrots, oil, lemon juice, water, ginger, maple syrup, salt, sesame oil).
- Green goddess dressing: (garlic, oil, parsley, basil, dill, chives, capers, lemon juice, yogurt).
- Italian dressing: (EVO oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, pepper).
Roast the butternut squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Peel the butternut squash (we use a vegetable peeler), then cut it into bite-size pieces (about ⅔-Inch or 1.5 cm).
Transfer the butternut squash dice to your prepared baking sheet, toss with olive oil and salt, and bake at 400°F or 200°C for 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
Tip: you can also roast the butternut squash in the air-fryer, at 400°F or 200°C, for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Make the dressing
To a small mason jar that you can close, add good olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Close the lid and shake well. You can also whisk the ingredients for this vinaigrette in a small bowl.
Build the salad
To a large salad bowl or large serving platter, add mixed salad leaves.
Now add pecans, cranberries, sliced apples, and roasted butternut squash.
Sprinkle with crumbled feta, then drizzle with the maple-mustard dressing.
Tip: don't toss the salad immediately; it won't look as pretty. Bring it to the table, then toss it before serving it.
Butternut squash salad with chickpeas
Turn this delicious salad into a tasty and nutritious main dish, perfect for lunch or a light, healthy dinner, by adding drained and rinsed chickpeas. A 15-ounce can is ideal.
You can also use dry chickpeas that you previously soaked for 12 hours, then cooked in lightly salted boiling water for 2 hours or until tender.
Butternut squash salad with crunchy chickpeas
Oven-roasted chickpeas or air fryer chickpeas are a super tasty and crunchy addition to most salads, including this one.
They are easy to make in the oven or the air fryer, and you can season them with your favorite spice, from paprika and garlic powder to turmeric and cumin.
Check out our oven-roasted chickpeas and air fryer chickpeas recipe.
Serve this butternut squash salad as a flavor-packed lunch or dinner with focaccia bread, bruschetta, couscous, quinoa, or crunchy crostini.
We think it's delicious as a side to one of our easy homemade vegetable soups, such as:
- Potato leek soup (potato, leek, white, thyme, bay leaves, Greek, or vegan yogurt).
- Cauliflower soup: (cauliflower, garlic, onion, thyme, nutmeg, vegetable broth).
- Carrot soup: (carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, olive oil).
- Broccoli soup: (broccoli, potatoes, leek, butter, thyme, vegetable broth).
Make ahead: we don't recommend mixing the salad ahead of time because the salad greens will wilt due to the vinegar in the dressing.
However, what you can do to get ahead is roast the butternut squash up to 24 hours in advance, then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can also mix the dressing in advance and give it a quick shake before using it.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in a bowl covered with plastic or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Freezer: this recipe is not freezer friendly.
More butternut squash recipes
If you love cooking with butternut squash, get fresh ideas from these dinner-friendly winter squash recipes:
- Butternut squash soup (butternut squash, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, vegetable broth).
- Butternut squash ravioli (semolina flour, turmeric, butternut squash, dairy-free ricotta).
- Creamy butternut squash pasta (spaghetti, butternut squash, dairy-free ricotta, and parmesan).
- Roasted butternut squash (sage, olive oil, garlic, thyme).
- Butternut squash risotto (arborio rice, onion, garlic, white wine, butter, parmesan).
More lunch-friendly salads
Get more satiating and fulfilling salad ideas with these lunchbox-friendly meals:
- Chickpea salad (chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mustard, maple syrup).
- Easy chickpea pasta salad (pasta, chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, corn, cucumber, lemon).
- Creamy tofu salad (leafy greens, fried tofu, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, tahini, lemon).
- Kale and quinoa salad (kale, corn, lemon juice, red bell pepper, quinoa, spring onions).
- Kale salad (kale, apple, walnuts, cranberries, red cabbage, pumpkin, feta, or vegan feta).
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
Butternut Squash Salad
For roasting the butternut squash
- 1 pound butternut squash peeled
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the salad
- 6 cups mixed greens
- ⅓ cup pecans
- 1 green apple
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas drained and rinsed
For the dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cumin ground
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Roast butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler, then cut it into bite-size pieces (about ⅔-Inch or 1½ cm).
- Transfer to baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Arrange on a single layer and bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
- To a small jar, add olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, ground cumin, salt, and black pepper. Close and shake well. You can also whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Build the salad
- To a large salad bowl or serving platter, add mixed salad leaves.Add pecans, cranberries, sliced apple, and roasted butternut squash.Sprinkle with crumbled feta, then drizzle with the dressing.
- Optionally, you can add drained and rinsed chickpeas to turn the salad into a meal.Tip: don't toss the salad immediately; it won't look pretty. Bring it to the table, then toss it before serving.
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