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A warm and hearty roasted butternut squash salad loaded with cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and a caramelized squash with a hint of spices! Plus an exciting maple dressing to blend it all together
Craving a roasted butternut squash salad?
You are not alone!
Fall is once again upon us. And every time the leaves on trees turn yellow, orange, and red, all I want to eat are roasted butternut squash and pumpkins.
This colorful, warm, and delicious roasted butternut squash salad is one of my favorites to make during the first cold days in the fall.
Plus it’s the perfect salad to add to your Thanksgiving table. It comes together in just 30 minutes. It’s comforting, hearty, and delicious.
What gives this salad a complex depth of flavor is: the sweetness from the dried cranberries, the punchiness of the baby arugula, and green onions, plus the spicy aroma of smoked paprika on top of the caramelized squash and crunchy roasted chickpeas. All topped with a sweet-tart dressing.
How to peel and cut butternut squash
To make this salad we need to start by chopping and peeling the butternut squash.
This is by far the most time-consuming part of this recipe. If you want to make this salad faster, you can either prep the butternut squash in advance or buy pre-cut butternut squash (although that’s a more expensive option – buy hey, sometimes you just need shortcuts!).
If you need a quick tutorial on how to peel and cut butternut squash, you can find step-by-step pictures on my creamy butternut squash pasta recipe.
A short recap:
- Using a sharp cook knife cut off the top stem and bottom end of your squash on a cutting board.
- Cut the butternut squash in half, roughly where the cylindrical shape stops and the squash becomes rounder.
- Place the cylindrical bit on the flat end, and remove the skin using a knife. Some people prefer using a vegetable peeler.
- Cut in half the bottom of the squash and remove the seeds with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Then peel.
- Dice your butternut squash into cubes.
How to roast butternut squash
There are so many ways to roast butternut squash. You can either roast it whole in its skin. Or cut it in half, and roast it face down on a baking tray. Or roast it by peeling it and dicing it into cubes first.
We will be using this last method as the cubes will become more caramelized and flavorful. Plus they will roast in just 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).
- Cover your baking tray or sheet pan with baking paper.
- Add the diced butternut squash on the baking tray and toss it with the extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and one teaspoon of smoked paprika. We will also be roasting the chickpeas at the same time. So add them to the same tray, and mix well together.
- Roast the butternut squash for 20 minutes and toss about halfway, to make sure it cooks evenly. You can check with a fork or a knife, to make sure it’s cooked throughout, before removing it from the oven.
While the butternut squash is roasting, we can get on with the rest of the salad.
How to make this roasted butternut squash salad
For the salad
- 4 cups mix salad (here I used baby arugula with red baby lettuce)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 3-4 green onions (or red onions)
For the dressing
- 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
While the chickpeas and butternut squash are roasting in the oven, you can prep everything else.
Add the washed mix salad to a large bowl, together with the dried cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and chopped green onions.
Prepare the dressing by squeezing one orange, then mix in a small glass jar the orange juice, the extra-virgin olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Once the butternut squash and chickpeas are ready, leave them to cool for 5 minutes, before adding them to the salad. Then toss everything together with the dressing and serve immediately.
Can you meal prep this butternut squash salad?
I wouldn’t recommend to meal prep this butternut squash salad in advance, as the salad leaves could become a bit soggy. But there are some shortcuts you can take to reduce the prep time.
By peeling and chopping the butternut squash in advance, you can save at least 10 minutes.
You can also roast the butternut squash and chickpeas ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can then simply warm them up and toss them in the salad.
This way, you’ll have a delicious warm salad ready in less than 15 minutes.
Butternut squash salad tips and substitutions
Which salad is best?
You can use any greens you like in this salad. I love using arugula (rocket) as it gives it a great punchiness that goes incredibly well with the sweetness of the butternut squash. But baby spinach works great too. Or red radicchio. Try to avoid delicate salad leaves, as they tend to wilt too fast once they are tossed with the warm butternut squash and chickpeas.
Maple syrup gives this salad an extra touch of sweetness. Make sure to use pure maple syrup like this one. If you don’t have maple syrup, you can use a teaspoon of brown sugar, but make sure it’s well dissolved in the dressing before tossing the salad.
I love how chickpeas give you an extra boost of protein in this salad. Plus, they make it a whole dish that you can eat on its own for a light lunch or dinner. You can substitute them for brown or green lentils or omit them entirely if you are looking for a lighter salad.
You can substitute them for red onion, thinly sliced.
You can substitute pecans with walnuts.
How to eat this salad
This salad is incredibly simple to make, and it’s the perfect side dish for a special Thanksgiving dinner.
But you can also transform it into a delicious fall dinner meal in its own right. It’s perfectly filling with the addition of chickpeas. Just make sure you eat a bigger portion!
Plus it’s vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
Roasted Butternut Squash (Hearty + Vegan)
For the butternut squash salad:
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 can chickpeas drained (15oz)
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 6 cups mix salad (arugula, red lettuce, baby spinach)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 3-4 green onions (or 1 small red onions)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Cut the squash, peel it and dice it into cubes. Toss the butternut squash and chickpeas with the extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and smoked paprika.
- Place the squash and chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Roast until the butternut squash tender for 20-25 minutes.
- While the squash and chickpeas are roasting, wash the salad and chop the green onions. Add the salad, green onions, pecans, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds in a bowl.
- Prepare the dressing: squeeze one orange, then mix the orange juice, the extra-virgin olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small jar.
- Once the butternut squash and chickpeas have finished roasting, remove from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
- Assemble the salad by adding the butternut squash and chickpeas to the rest of the ingredients, drizzle with the dressing, toss lightly, and serve immediately.
Have you tried this butternut squash salad? Let me know in the comments!