Rich autumn flavours and rustic warm colours make this roasted Butternut Squash Salad a favourite choice for a healthy fall salad! Caramelized bites of squash, sweet cranberries, feta cheese crumbles and crunchy pecans top a bed of baby spinach or tenderized kale.
One of the best parts of this roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries may be the smallest.
No--it's not the little pieces of tenderized kale. It's not the feta crumbles. It's not even the sweet little cranberries.
What is it? It's those crispy edges on the tiny cubes of oven-roasted butternut squash!
Fall salads are delicious! Incorporating vegetables and fruit that are in season makes a nice change from summer salads. Winter salads, like these 15 Best Winter Salad Recipes can be just as colourful and nutritious as summer salads!
For example, this Roasted Sweet Potato Spinach Salad with Maple Walnuts and Bacon has irresistible flavours.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
Crispy bits! This Butternut Squash Salad is also hard to resist! Caramelizing butternut squash by roasting it in the oven brings out its mellow flavour and natural sweetness. It creates tasty, crusty bits to search out and savour!
Healthy greens. Nestled in a bed of either baby spinach, mixed greens, or tenderized kale, and topped with sweetened cranberries and salty feta cheese, this is a healthy salad for a fall or winter dinner.
Leftovers? Perfect for lunch the following day!
But there's more! Tucked in among all that deliciousness is your choice of Caramel Spiced Pecans or Low-Carb Roasted Pumpkin Spice Pecans. These sweet and crunchy nuts add the final special touches to this fall salad.
Best homemade dressing! And tossing it all together and then drizzling it with my favourite Honey-Lemon Dijon Dressing enhances the hearty flavour of this comforting Butternut Squash Salad even more.
We're basking in the warmth of a sunny fall day here on the West Coast and we're toasting the beginning of a new season with a glass of Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria and this wholesome Butternut Squash Salad with cranberries, salty feta and sweet pecans!
Here's what you'll need to make this healthy fall salad. Make it for dinner, or for a packable lunch. It's also great as a potluck offering as it stays fresh!
- Butternut squash: you'll need 2 cups, cubed
- greens: your choice: Baby spinach, mixed greens, or kale: Lacinato kale, (also known as Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale) is my favourite variety for salads. See below for how to tenderize the kale. You'll need one bunch.
- cranberries: dried, sweetened
- feta cheese: crumbled, for that salty flavour
- pecans: try my Caramel Spiced Pecans or Low-Carb Roasted Pumpkin Spice Pecans with this salad. Delicious!
- Honey-Dijon Dressing: olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, shallots, honey, Dijon mustard. An easy dressing to whisk together!
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make this spinach or kale salad with butternut squash. Complete instructions are in the recipe card below.
- First, whisk the dressing ingredients, then set aside to allow flavours to blend while you make the salad.
- Next, cut the squash, season, then roast in the oven (or in your air fryer.)
- Meanwhile, wash and dry your greens, or prepare the kale, massaging it to tenderize it.
- Arrange the spinach, greens, or kale in a serving bowl, top with roasted squash, cranberries, feta, and spiced pecans.
- Drizzle or toss with Honey-Lemon Dijon dressing and serve.
👍🏼 How to cut Butternut squash
The first thing you'll want to do is remove thin slices from both the top (stem end) and the base of your squash. Removing these parts gives you a firm base to stand your butternut upright to make it easier to peel. Peel it in long strips from one end to the other using a vegetable peeler.
Next, cut through the "neck" of the squash, the point where it widens. (This one in the photo didn't have a noticeable neck.) Slice the neck in half from top to bottom, the slice into half-moons about ¾ inch thick.
Remove the seeds from the squash with a spoon, and slice this part into rounds in the same way.
To make cubes, slice the half-moons into strips about ¾ inch wide and then cross-wise into cubes. Obviously, you won't have perfect cubes, as the squash is round!
❓Frequently asked questions
Your choice! It's good both ways. Make the salad and top it with roasted butternut squash fresh from the oven.
It's also delicious cold, if you prefer. Chill leftovers and enjoy it cold in your lunch the following day. Or you can store the squash separately and reheat it in the oven or in your air fryer before adding it to your leftover salad.
Do you avoid kale salads because kale is tough to chew? Even Lacinato Kale (sometimes called Tuscan Kale, Italian Kale or Dinosaur Kale) can be chewy, but it's easy to improve its texture.
First, remove the center stem, either with a sharp knife or by stripping the leaves from the stem.
Next, chop the leaves into small pieces or ribbons.
Transfer to a bowl, and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Work the olive oil into the leaves by gently rubbing them between your fingers.
Massaging kale in this way helps to break down the tough fibers and makes it tender and easy to chew and digest.
Kale is a superfood!
Read more about kale in this article about the healthy benefits of kale.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly, as bacteria can start to form in room temperature food after a couple of hours. This salad will last several days in the fridge. Keep it tightly covered and enjoy for lunch or as a side for dinner!
Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries and Feta
- 2 cups Butternut squash, cubed
- 4 teaspoon olive oil extra virgin, divided
- ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1 bunch Lacinato (Tuscan) kale or 6 cups baby spinach or mixed greens
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup Caramel Spiced Pecans or Pumpkin Spice Pecans
Honey-Lemon Dijon Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil, extra virgin
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or Champagne vinegar
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Whisk the dressing ingredients first, then set aside to allow flavours to blend while you make the salad.
- Heat oven to 400°F.
- Cut Butternut squash into small bite-sized cubes. Place in a medium bowl and toss with 2 teaspoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper until well-coated. Heat a baking sheet in the oven, brush or spray lightly with oil, then arrange squash cubes so they are spaced apart. Roast for 15 minutes or more, turning half way through, or until squash is beginning to brown, and is fork-tender. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, remove inner ribs from kale leaves and finely chop. Transfer to a bowl and massage with the remaining 2 teaspoon olive oil.
- Arrange in a serving bowl, top with roasted squash, cranberries, feta and caramel spiced pecans. Drizzle or toss with Honey-Lemon Dijon dressing and serve.