Pear and Butternut Squash Salad with a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Salty and sweet with a kick. This pear and butternut squash salad is a favorite winter side dish and it's perfect for lunch or any holiday get together.
A drizzle of homemade maple balsamic vinaigrette turns an ordinary salad into something special.
I had the pleasure recently of creating this salad for an athlete dinner. It's still the middle of winter but that doesn't mean it's hard to find fresh fruits and veggies in season.
Tis the season for juicy pears and sweet butternut squash. Why not pair the two together over a bed of spring greens, red onions and salty bits of bacon.
A sprinkle of cayenne pepper and cinnamon add sweet heat to the butternut squash and the maple syrup added to the vinaigrette pulls the salad together.
I've always thought butternut squash is too sweet as it is. But adding salty and spicy ingredients creates a perfect balance.
I use that balance in a favorite butternut squash side dish that I love to serve during the holidays with roasts or turkey. Be sure to check out that recipe.
You can find butternut squash in the grocery produce department during the fall and winter months. Check out this handy guide on how to prepare and cut butternut squash for use.
It's a cheap gourd and a medium-sized squash easily yields 4 to 5 cups of cubes.
Rather not? Sometimes I cheat and buy butternut squash cubes pre-packaged and ready to go in the refrigerated section of the produce department.
Either way, It's a simple salad that's a change from a traditional veggie salad.
Pear and Butternut Salad with a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 6 to 8. Total time: 40 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 5-ounce container spring greens
- 1 medium butter not squash, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 2 pears, sliced
- 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
For the vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine the butternut squash, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of the cayenne pepper. Toss well to coat and spread the butternut cubes on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cubes are soft.
Next, whisk together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Set aside.
Fill a bowl with the salad greens. Add the onion, sliced pears, butternut squash cubes and crumbled bacon. Serve with the vinaigrette.