roasted butternut squash salad with cider vinaigrette

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It’s hard to believe that most years, I’m anti-anything fall until October 1st. Not this year. September included pumpkin breakfasts, apple desserts, and plenty of pumpkin beer. Granted, the weather was pretty warm in September and the trees were still green so it didn’t feel much like fall, but it didn’t feel like summer either.

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That all changed on October 1st, when I had to turn the heat on for the first time, and our dinner complimented the cool, crisp weather – salad with roasted butternut squash, cranberries, walnuts, and dressing made from reduced apple cider, served with sweet potato biscuits.

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Every ingredient in the salad is maximized. The squash, seasoned and drizzled with maple syrup, is roasted until it’s caramelized. The walnuts are toasted, and so are the cranberries, which was a trick I hadn’t seen before. The cider, reduced to less than a third of its initial volume, is mixed with acidic cider vinegar and emulsifying mustard to form the base of the dressing.

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It was delicious; so good, in fact, that I made again the next day for lunch. It was sweet, but also tangy from the dressing, a bit bitter from the walnuts, and spicy from the arugula. I also like that the hot squash and dressing slightly wilt the arugula – it shrinks it a bit, so it doesn’t take so darn long to eat a nice bowl full of greens. Which is a good thing, because then I can eat more of it.

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One year ago: Spinach, Artichoke, and Red Pepper Strata

Printer Friendly Recipe
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
(adapted just slightly from Barefoot Contessa)

I used less oil. I didn’t measure the amount, but I’m guessing it was ¼ cup; I only ever use enough oil to just balance the acidity. Also, I liked to let the dressing and squash cool just a few minutes before mixing them with the greens. I forgot the cheese the first time I made the salad, when I photographed it.

1 (1½-pound) butternut squash, peeled and ¾-inch) diced
good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
½ cup walnuts halves
¾ cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries and walnuts to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

3. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.

4. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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  1. I could NEVER be anti-fall – it’s my favorite season! Haha 🙂

    Lovely squash & greens pairing!

  2. I love that you have that veggie peeler! I’ve held it in my hands many, many times, wondering if it was actually any good. If it can get through a squash, it must be sharp! This recipe looks great to me, too, by the way. I’ll give it to the Omnivore, too, but add bacon to his portion.

  3. This looks utterly amazing, and perfect for fall! I’ve never heard of toasting cranberries, but I can’t wait to try it.

  4. bridget says:

    Branny – The peeler ROCKS. It’s so sharp and easy to use.

  5. Bridget,
    I have the same salad on my post tomorrow, only w/ beets instead of the squash!
    Great photos…..I can never photograph salads!
    I will be roasting some squash tonight!

  6. PS…what are those good looking cheese crackers? on the side?
    did you bake them?

  7. bridget says:

    Stacey – They’re sweet potato biscuits. They were a good accompaniment to the salad, although mine didn’t turn out quite right.

  8. I’ve seen Ina make this and it’s been on my list of recipes to try for a while now. Now that it’s finally butternut squash season, I’m so excited to try this!

  9. There are so many things in here that I love – squash, cider, vinaigrette, spicy greens… I haven’t turned the heat on yet, but I’m really enjoying the fall weather (well, whenever it stops raining!). Bring on the pumpkin, the apple, the squash, and lots of comfort foods!

  10. “it doesn’t take so darn long to eat a nice bowl full of greens. Which is a good thing, because then I can eat more of it.”
    I love the way you think! It sounds like me…
    This looks really good!

  11. treewhisperer says:

    that butternut looks familiar…

  12. What a fantastic salad! I adore butternut squash but have never thought to try it in salad. Thanks for sharing. Oh, love that second pic – where did you get the peeler?

  13. bridget says:

    Tracey – I got it as a gift, but I noticed recently that Target has started carrying these products.

  14. This looks incredibly delicious! What a perfect fall meal!

  15. I’ve flipped past this recipe in the cookbook more than once. I think it’s that I never really want to make a salad when I’m cooking. But this time of year it sounds fantastic, and I was just saying to my husband the other day how much I enjoy roasted walnuts with veggies.

  16. Good God this sounds amazing! I actually said “wow” out loud and my husband said, “what’s wrong?”- maybe my intense reaction is because we are still in the depths of summer here in New Orleans uggghhh. Anyway, the minute it gets cooler I’m making this salad.

  17. Ok I love the peeler!! Now the salad, it looks absolutely divine!

  18. Bridget, this looks amazing! And different – I love seeing a new twist on salads. And I must jump on the bandwagon…the peeler is super cute.

  19. This salad looks amazing. I love the warm butternut squash….yum!

  20. This looks absolutely incredible! Can’t wait to try it out…

  21. Beautiful photos, this looks delicious!

  22. Mmmm, this is the perfect fall salad! Love that cute peeler too!

  23. I can’t wait to make this recipe! I only got to use butternut squash a handful of times last year but I fully intend to use the heck out of it this year!

  24. This is my kind of salad. It sounds wonderful!

  25. Great combination, I love warm roasted squash on salads!

  26. I added this recipe to my Fall Recipes To Cook list literally the day before you made it! Now I’m even more excited to get around to making this recipe. Beautiful photos.

  27. TheDivineMissM says:

    In a moment when I wasn’t using my head, I accidentally bought a butternut squash instead of a spaghetti squash (even though I know the difference). So, since Thanksgiving was approaching I resorted to the internet to find a way to use it in a salad and, low and behold, I happened upon your blog. So I made the salad – it got a great response and (best of all!) I somehow got to take home the leftovers. It was still delish two days later. Thank you for posting this 🙂

  28. Marissa says:

    Oh my goodness, I tried this salad tonight for dinner, and it was soooooo good! One of the best salads I’ve ever had, hands down. Instead of parmesan we used goat cheese, which was delicious! It was so beautiful, I think my mom and I might bring it for Thanksgiving.

  29. anonymous says:

    So I am super excited about this salad-I didnt realize I didnt have cranberries but have dried cherries.-I think it will be a delicious substitute..and of course no salad is complete without goat cheese….yum thanks!