Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese all drizzled with the most incredible CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE belongs on your table this Thanksgiving and Christmas and all season long!
You are probably going to want to volunteer to bring salad to Thanksgiving this year because this salad is make ahead, stress free perfection. I loved this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe so much it was gone within 24 hours – and I was the only one home.
Its true. Patrick was camping in Zion this past weekend when I made this salad Saturday and it was gone by Sunday. Because I craved this salad. And to be honest, I’m not a crave-salad type of person – crave-pasta, yes, crave salad – no – but this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad is different. It is a cravilicous salad loaded with all. the. goods.
It is a rave-about salad.
It is a need seconds, thirds, fourths salad.
It is a beg-for-the-recipe salad.
It is a repeat every Thanksgiving salad.
It is the hero of Thanksgiving salad.
AKA it is going to become one of your favorite salads!
There are so many reasons this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad is otherworldly delicious, but let’s start with the Cranberry Vinaigrette. This might just be my favorite dressing ever. Or at least tied for it. It’s vibrant, sweet and tangy, zingy and zesty and made with real cranberries! It infuses the entire salad with bright, bold flavor but at the same time compliments and enhances rather than overwhelm the other ingredients.
I first tried making this Cranberry Vinaigrette with cranberry juice instead of real cranberries and it was hugely lacking in flavor so real cranberries it was and trust me, you can taste the difference. To make this Cranberry Vinaigrette, first pulse your cranberries, garlic and a shallot until finely chopped then add Dijon, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth. So basically, it takes 5 minutes to make this Thanksgiving worthy dressing.
I like to make the Cranberry Vinaigrette at least an hour in advance so it has time to chill and the flavors to meld but you can make it at the beginning of salad prep if you are in a time crunch. You can also make the vinaigrette days in advance so it’s already to go when its Roasted Butternut Squash Salad time!
Now let’s talk the other star of this salad – roasted butternut squash! I love Fall/winter for butternut squash alone. It’s hearty and naturally sweet and I would love every bite even if it wasn’t incidentally low in calories and packed with vitamins.
For this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, we toss our butternut squash with a splash of olive oil, pure maple syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne and roast until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Hello gorgeous dynamically flavorful squash. I could eat this roasted squash all in one sitting. But please, try and exercise your self control because trust me, it becomes exponentially even more delicious when combined with the rest of the goods.
Another essential salad element are the 5 Minute Perfect Caramelized Pecans. We make these pecans while the butternut squash is roasting because they really only take 5 minutes. Their sweet caramelized crunch is the contrast in flavor and texture you crave in every bite. It’s the perfect compliment to the tangy dressing and subtly sour Granny smith apples, the earthy squash and the creamy goat cheese.
Did someone say creamy goat cheese?! Oh heavens, why didn’t someone tell me about goat cheese crumbles before? I was all set to make goat cheese croutons when I stumbled upon way-easier crumbled goat cheese. Crumbled goat cheese typically come in 4 oz. containers located in the specialty cheeses section of your grocery store. Crumbled goat cheese looks like feta cheese but is waaaaaaaay creamier, less tangy and feels like you’re eating the most luxurious cheese on the planet. I am completely obsessed.
Lastly, the dried cranberries/craisins add the final sweet element of perfection. Put all the goods together – roasted butternut squash, crunchy caramelized pecans, tart apples, tangy red onions, creamy goat cheese, fresh spring mix lettuce and drizzle them all with sweet and tangy Cranberry Vinaigrette and we have a bright, rich medley of flavor and textures that is so satisfyingly delicious you might be tempted to skip the turkey all together.
To serve this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time except the apple and keep everything stored separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator – except the nuts of course, don’t need to be refrigerated. Come salad time, all you have to do is chop your apple and toss everything together. Now that’s Thanksgiving made easy! And more delicious than you could imagine. yet.
Looking for more Butternut Squash Recipes?
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashews
- Slow Cooker Thai Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken, Wild Rice, Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
- Roasted Maple Dijon Brussels Spouts and Butternut Squash
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes?
- Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
- Dijon Maple Green Beans with Caramelized Pecans, Bacon and Feta
- Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf
- Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Meatballs
- Cornbread Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries and Pecans
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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese
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Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash (1 1/2-pounds) peeled and chopped into 1/2-3/4” cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Dash of cayenne
- Roasted Butternut Squash from above
- 12 oz. spring salad mix
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries/craisins
- 4 oz. soft crumbled goat cheese
- 1 Recipe 5 Minute Perfect Caramelized Nuts
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 small shallot, peeled
- 2 tablespoons sugar, more or less to taste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Add cranberries, garlic clove and shallot to food processor and chop fine. Add sugar, Dijon, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and process until smooth.
- Refrigerate Vinaigrette while you prepare the salad ingredients then whisk/shake again before drizzling over salad. The Vinaigrette is best if allowed to chill at least one hour in advance. Vinaigrette can a be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple days.
- Prepare according to directions. Can be made, cooled then stored in an airtight container for up to one week before using.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Add butternut squash to a foil lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup). Add olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, cayenne and toss until evenly coated. Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
- When ready to serve, toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. You can either drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine or if you expect leftovers, drizzle individual salad servings with dressing.
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