Easy Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Easy Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Salty and sweet with a kick. This perfect fall salad features pears, roasted butternut squash with a maple balsamic vinaigrette and is a favorite winter side dish that is perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

Greens, onions and butternut squash in a salad bowl with dressing being poured over top.

A drizzle of homemade maple balsamic salad dressing turns an ordinary salad into something special.

I had the pleasure recently of creating this fall harvest 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.

This great recipe requires a few special salad ingredients.

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 delicious 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 balances the sweetness of the squash. 

Two butternut squash salads on a table

Ingredients

Grab these seasonal ingredients from the grocery store produce department during the fall and winter months. 

Butternut squash. Pick a smooth, blemish-free squash that is heavy for its size and is evenly colored. 

Avoid a squash that has a pale green tint as it is underripe.

You can sometimes find pre-cut squash cubes already packaged and ready to go in the refrigerated section of the produce department.

Greens. I like to use spring greens for this salad. 

Bacon. Grab a package of your favorite brand. Any crispy bacon will do.

Onion. Red onion is delicious in this salad.

Pears. Green, bosc or asian pears works in this recipe.

Spices. I sprinkle cinnamon and cayenne pepper to bring out the sweet and spicy fall flavors of the squash.

Here is what you need for the vinaigrette

This is my all time favorite dressing and is delicious on any fall salad.

Olive oil. I like to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the dressing.

White balsamic vinegar. Stick to white to keep the dressing light in color.

Maple syrup. I only use the real stuff. Grade A is best.

Dijon mustard. This adds complexity to the dressing and helps cut the sweetness.

Cayenne pepper. Optional. If you like a bit of heat, add it.

A sheet pan of cubed butternut squash.

How to make this salad

Preheat the oven.

Cut and cube the squash with sharp knife.

Mix the squash cubes with a little olive oil, add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper and spread the squash onto a lined sheet pan or baking pan.

Roast butternut squash cubes in a single layer until the cubes are fork tender.

While the squash is roasting, whisk together all the dressing ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Fill a large salad bowl with the salad greens. 

Add the salad remaining ingredients including onion, sliced pears, butternut squash cubes and crumbled bacon. 

Serve with the vinaigrette.

A forkful of salad.

Variations

This salad is delicious with all kinds of greens including peppery arugula, curly kale or baby spinach leaves.

Add a crunch by adding roasted pumpkin seeds or crunchy pecans.

Substitute crisp apple slices instead of pears.

Add pomegranate seeds or sweet cranberries for a sweet pop of flavor.

Top the salad with creamy goat cheese or feta cheese.

How to cut and peel butternut squash

It’s a cheap gourd and a medium-sized squash easily yields 4 to 5 cups of cubes.

  1. Remove the skin using a peeler and pass over repeatedly to reveal the orange flesh.
  2. Slice crosswise using a large knife, then cut the top part lengthwise.
  3. Trim off the top stem from the top part and bottom end from the bottom part. 
  4. Cut the bottom part lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and strings using a spoon.
  5. Cut the the top and bottom portions into one-inch strips. Cut the strips into bite sized 1-inch cubes.
Butternut squash salad with balsamic dressing on a table top.

Fall salads and soups for the holidays

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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Ali Randall
Salty and sweet with a kick. This perfect fall salad features pears, roasted butternut squash with a maple balsamic vinaigrette and is a favorite winter side dish that is perfect for the Thanksgiving table.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 5-ounce container spring greens
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 pears, sliced
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

For the dressing:

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray or using parchment paper.
  • 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 tray. Roast butternut squash cubes for for 20-25 minutes or until the cubes are fork tender.
  • Next, whisk together all the dressing ingredients for the vinaigrette. Set aside.
  • Fill a large bowl with the salad greens. 
  • Add the onion, sliced pears, butternut squash cubes and crumbled bacon. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Notes

Updated from February 2017.
Keyword Butternut squash salad with balsamic dressing
Butternut squash salad with balsamic dressing | This pear and butternut squash salad is a favorite winter side dish and it perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

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