Dressed in a simple apple cider vinaigrette, this sweet butternut squash salad is rich with flavor and perfect on it’s own or as an accompaniment to a hearty main course. Filled with vibrant leafy greens and crunchy sweet and tart textures, this salad is as easy as it is delicious!
If cozy were a salad, it would be this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Trust me when I say, even during the chilliest winter months, you’ll want this on your dinner table. For starters, fresh kale, romaine, brown sugar roasted butternut squash, and crispy bacon are tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette. Then we top our salad with crunchy pepita seeds and Parmesan cheese. Each bite is filled with the season’s best flavors!
- Butternut Squash – Sweet and slightly nutty, butternut squash is the base flavor in this fall salad.
- Bacon – Salt cured bacon is the perfect salad topper. It adds texture and richness, without overwhelming the other flavors.
- Kale – Kale’s strong, earthy flavor is perfect with sweet cranberries and salty bacon.
- Romaine Lettuce – Crisp and refreshingly mild, romaine compliments the hardiness of kale.
- Dried Cranberries – Cranberries are a little sweet and a little tart. They offer another dimension of flavor.
- Pepitas / Pumpkin Seeds (opt) – Pepitas give the salad a fun crunch.
- Parmesan Cheese – A dusting of Parmesan is the salty finish this salad needs.
- Olive Oil, Kosher Salt, Brown Sugar – Pantry staples to finish the dish.
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette – This homemade tangy-sweet vinaigrette goes so well with the cool weather flavors and is incredibly easy to throw together. A store-bought dressing would do just fine as a stand-in, but look for something with sweet and tangy balance like a balsamic vinaigrette.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD
There are so many flavors going on in this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad that you could pair it with everything from a hearty roast chicken or turkey, to a grilled steak. If you’re in the mood for a lighter meal, try this salad with my Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Orzo Soup for a fun soup and salad night. Add some 1-Hour Light and Buttery Dinner Rolls for a complete winter meal.
HOW TO KEEP LETTUCE CRISP
No one likes soggy lettuce leaves, and unless your lettuce is fresh from the garden, keeping those leafy greens in your fridge crisp can be a challenge. The secret to crisp, crunchy lettuce is minimizing the moisture and air circulation around the leaves. To keep lettuce crisp here are a few tips:
- Dry the lettuce leaves well in a salad spinner.
- Once the leaves are dry, remove the basket from the salad spinner, and drain the bowl well.
- Place dry paper towels in the bowl of the salad spinner and place the basket with the lettuce on top of the paper towels.
- Cover with a lid and then store in the fridge until ready to use.
The dry paper towels will help to absorb the moisture from the lettuce leaves as they sit in the fridge. This should keep your lettuce crisp for 2-3 days.
- Try a different kind of bacon – Swap traditional American-style bacon for diced pancetta, pork belly, or thinly sliced Prosciutto. You could also try a smoked variety of bacon like maple bourbon, hickory, or applewood.
- Mix and match nuts and berries – Dried blueberries, sour cherries, chopped dates, and apricots can be substituted for dried cranberries. Pecans, sliced almonds, or walnuts can be used in place of pepitas. Try toasting the nuts for additional flavor.
More Cool Weather Salads
- Kale Salad with Apples and Manchego
- Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
- Apple, Brie and Pecan Salad
- Sesame Noodle Salad
- Sesame Ginger Kale Salad
- Half Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper Sheets
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
- Anchor 3-Piece Glass Mixing Bowls
- Salad Bowl
- Salad Tongs
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Half Sheet Pans
- Mixing Bowl
Roasted Butternut Squash:
- 1 Butternut Squash, peeled and sliced into 1.5-inch cubes (use a 2 to 3 pound squash)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon Diced Shallot, finely minced
- 3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoon Maple Syrup
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or use your favorite oil)
- Pinch of Salt and Pepper
- 8 strips Bacon
- 2 cups Thinly Sliced Kale Leaves (see note)
- 4 cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped
- ⅓ cup Dried Cranberries
- ⅓ cup Pepitas / Pumpkin Seeds (optional)
- ⅓ cup Parmesan Cheese, treated or shaved with a peeler
- Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C.
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper (or generously spray it with nonstick cooking spray). (Note: If all of the squash won't fit easily on one pan with some space, use two sheet pans.)
- Toss butternut squash with 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil and then brown sugar and salt. Spread out on prepared large sheet pan. Roast squash, without turning, until nearly tender, 15 minutes.
- Remove squash from the oven and use a flat spatula to gently flip.
- Continue roasting until squash can be easily pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- While squash roasts, heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook bacon on both sides until very crisp, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly.
- Combine all ingredients for the dressing and whisk well (or blend with an immersion blender for a very smooth dressing).
- Just before serving, in a large salad bowl, toss together kale, Romaine, roasted butternut squash, bacon, and dried cranberries.
- Add dressing and toss until dressed to your liking. Top with pepitas and cheese.