Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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Big bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash Salad made with Spinach and Caramelized Pecans

For some reason I’ve never been a big squash person. In fact, the first time I even tried or touched a butternut squash was last fall when I showed up early for a party and my friend put me to work peeling and cubing one (which, by the way, is not an easy thing to do for a squash novice).

But this year I was determined to get into the kitchen and get familiar this gorgeous winter fruit. And I’m happy to report that I’ve created three amazing recipes, this colorful and simple salad being the first.

Fresh butternut squash ready to be cut open and roasted for saladShowing the inner portion of a butternut squash

First you want to start by removing the skin and cubing your squash. If you have a heavy-duty peeler, use that. Otherwise, stick with this method. It’s tricky at first since the skin is tough, but after my second try, I was nearly a pro.

Baking sheet filled with freshly roasted butternut squash

To get the squash tender and flavorful, simply toss it in olive oil and a little salt and pepper and roast. Not for long either! It only takes about 15-20 minutes in a 400-degree F (204 C) oven.

Plate of Caramelized Pecans for adding to salad

The next element of this salad is pecans, which can easily be prepared while the squash is roasting. Simply toast raw pecans in a skillet, remove and add olive oil and brown sugar, and then add the pecans back in a toss! It’s the easiest and most fool-proof method to perfect toasty, caramelized pecans every time.

The only thing left to do after that is add in some spinach, cranberries and toss it all together with a little more olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

This salad is so simple and delicious, perfect for fall gatherings or even as a healthy and filling take-along lunch for work or school since it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. In fact, it’s best when served warm.

I suspect you’ll love the mix of textures and flavors here, especially how the balsamic adds a nice acidity to balance the sweetness. Enjoy!

Big bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with dried cranberries and caramelized pecans

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

A warm salad made with roasted butternut squash, cranberries, spinach and candied pecans. Healthy, filling and a perfect take-along lunch or side at fall and holiday gatherings.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Glass bowl filled with Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
4.5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Course Salad, Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? Best when fresh

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • Sea salt + black pepper
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups baby spinach or arugula (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  • Toss butternut squash cubes in 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Roast for 15-20 minutes or until just tender. You don’t want it to get mushy, just tender.
  • While roasting, prepare your pecans by heating a medium skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add pecans and toss or stir until toasty and fragrant, being careful not to burn. Remove from skillet.
  • To the same skillet add 1 Tbsp olive oil (or butter) and 2 Tbsp brown sugar and stir to combine (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Then add pecans back in plus a pinch of salt and toss for a minute or two until fully coated and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool, spreading to make sure they don’t stick together.
  • Chop or loosely tear your greens and add to a serving bowl along with the cranberries. Once butternut squash is done, toss it right into the bowl along with the pecans.
  • Lastly, add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional // amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) and toss. Add more salt or pepper if desired. Serve immediately. If not vegan, goat or Gorgonzola cheese would be a brilliant addition.

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 3 g Calories: 238 Carbohydrates: 18 g Protein: 2.1 g Fat: 19 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 18 mg Fiber: 3.4 g Sugar: 7.3 g

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  1. Tracy says

    I have the hardest time peeling butternut squash and the acid from the peel is quite irritating to my sensitive skin. How do I make this easier? I tried the link but, “Try this method” takes me to a YouTube page that state’s its a private video.

  2. Kris says

    I made this for a BBQ tonight and everyone loved it! I used romaine and dried cherries, as that is what I had on hand. Will be making again!

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  4. laura says

    This was a much loved salad at a holiday celebration. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

    I used raisins instead of cranberries as that is what I had on hand. I cooked my squash in the crockpot, whole, and then just cut apart the parts I needed and oven roasted them with a smidge of oil prior to serving to get it nice and warm.

    My final adjustment was to heat a skillet, toss in 2 cups pecans and 1/4 c pure maple syrup and a sprinkle of s&p. Toss that around in the skillet to get a delicious sugar-free sweetened pecan. As the maple evaporates, the pecans get sticky. Remove from heat and chill in fridge spread out on a pan. Once the pecans are cool, you can store them in a jar in the fridge. I used these maple sweetened pecans on my salad in place of the sugar sweetened ones.

    Thanks again, this recipe is a keeper!

  5. diane says

    Want to bring this to relatives on Thanksgiving! Any suggestions on what I could do in advance before the car ride ( one hour ) to their house?

  6. Dorothy says

    I made this last night but substituted roasted beets for the cranberries since that was what I had on hand. The warm veggies wilted the spinache, the favors were wonderful together. We had this with tomato bread soup, best meatless Monday yet, Thanks so much.

  7. Barb says

    Great salad, I will share, used squash and roasted sweet potatoes, I roasted my veggies the day before and just brought them to room temperature to use on my salad. Will definitely be sharing the recipe and making again. I called it my Fall Salad! Thanks!

  8. Yara says

    My daughter loves fruits and veggies — as long as they’re not mixed with anything else. So I served this as a “deconstructed” salad. Everyone loved it. Some people mixed everything together while others ate each bit separately — in fact, the squash turned into a bit of a finger-food appetizer with the way everyone was stealing bites of it as they passed by. Yummy! (And I don’t think anyone used the dressing, actually. It didn’t need it.)

  9. LizA says

    I’m subbing in Kale instead of the Spinach, as that’s what’s in the fridge — but I know it’s going to be good :) I think this may become my go-to serving of winter vegetables this year.

  10. Don says

    First, I will say that this recipe did taste good. However, after making this salad using the recommended measurements, I did think the amount of oil used was a bit much. It left the entire salad feeling greasy. I definitely wouldn’t call this a healthy option.

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Don, thanks for the update. I’ll consider making a note on the recipe and reconsidering how much oil I recommend. Your input is helpful!

  11. Leah says

    Made this last night and it was dee-lish! Super easy to assemble and perfect for when you want a healthy salad but also want a warm, cozy meal. Thanks!

  12. Janelle says

    Beautiful, this sounds delicious and I love salads!! Just had a big sweet/savory salad last night, it feels good to get back on the salad train.

  13. Tara says

    This salad had me at hello! I tried it out last night, and it was a huge success. I have to admit that I was a little unsure of the warm veggie on the salad, but it was amazing. Great recipe, and it’s going into my regular rotation!

  14. Melissa says

    I made this salad for Thanksgiving and it was amazing! Everyone, even my picky eater cousins loved it! The combination of flavors in here is perfect. Definitely making this again. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Brie @ Entrée the Giant says

    Okay, so I was already psyched about this salad, but then when I read the bit at the bottom about adding goat cheese, I was sold. Thinking this would make a solid side for Sunday night’s roasted chicken breast….mmm!

  16. Amy says

    I almost swore off butternut squash because I got a blister the last time I chopped one up….but this looks amazing. I’ll have to give it a try!

  17. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie says

    I am much more likely to make a salad if is has butternut squash in it than any other salad. Normally I would say avocado, but with it being chilly out I’m not quite as in the mood for avocado as I am for squash. In other words, totally love this salad!

  18. Abbie @ Needs Salt says

    This salad looks awesome! I love butternut squash. I could nothing but this for dinner every night and be happy for life. Seriously.
    Pinning!

  19. Bonnie says

    I am sure you already know this but I will tell you anyway. A tip for peeling a butternut sqaush in no time flat is use a regular potato/carrot peeler. You won’t think it works but the skin comes right off and you will have the squash peeled in under a minute. Just peel like you would a carrot. No more buying pre-peeled cubed squash that costs way more. You had mentioned a heavy duty peeler but any old peeler will work. :)

    • Marissa @ Other Ways Blog says

      Also, if you stick the squash in the oven on 350 degrees for 20 minutes prior to peeling or cutting, it becomes easier to slice into!

    • Becky says

      The easiest thing on the planet is to cook a butternut squash. I never knew until last year. My Aunt saw me trying to cut one up. Much to my amazement she told me to throw the whole squash in the oven whole! Yes whole! 350 for one hour. Poke with knife to make sure it’s tender. When done slice in half length wise and scoop out seeds. Cut right up!