This roasted Butternut squash, cranberry and pecan salad with a maple-mustard dressing is packed full of flavour and makes a perfect side dish, starter or stand alone meal.
I’ve been making this roasted butternut squash salad a lot over the past few weeks. It’s perfect for when I’m alone in the house and I need something quick and healthy but feels like a treat at the same time.
It’s full of contrasting textures and flavours – you’ve got sweetness from the roasted squash, creamy saltiness from feta cheese, crunch from toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds and last but not least, unsweetened dried cranberries provide tartness and a pretty pop of colour.
It’s been said that you eat with your eyes first, and this salad is surely a perfect example of this – it’s lovely to look at as well as eat!
You could use any kind of pumpkin for this salad, but I went with butternut squash as it’s widely avaiable where I live (Scotland). Other varieties of pumpkin tend to disappear from the shops as soon as Halloween is over!
Whatever type of pumpkin you use, you need to roast it until it is soft in the middle and charred around the edges for the best flavour and texture.
I use unsweetened dried cranberries for this salad – the sweetened type have a lot of added sugar. But if you can’t find unsweetened cranberries, don’t let it put you off making the salad. I’ve also swapped the cranberries for dried cherries several times – it’s just as good.
Pecans are my favourite nut and I use them as often as I can! Feel feel to swap the pecans for walnuts if you like. Whatever nut you use, I highly recommend toasting them in a dry pan – it only takes a couple of minutes and really brings out their flavour. These little things make all the difference.
The most addictive thing about this salad is the contrast between the warm roasted butternut squash and the cold, salty feta cheese. You can either cut the cheese into cubes or crumble it into smaller pieces. Goats cheese also works a treat!
I like to sprinkle the salad with a generous handful of pumpkin seeds – I always have a packet of them in the house, but you could of course roast the seeds from the pumpkin yourself – simply give them a good wash to remove any stringy flesh, dry them on kitchen paper and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkling of sea salt and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Watch your fingers – they will be incredibly hot!
I use a bag of mixed salad leaves, but please use a mixture you whatever you like. I like spinach, rocket and radicchio. Slightly bitter Winter leaves are ideal for this dish – the bitterness counteracts the sweetness of the squash and the maple dressing.
how to serve this butternut squash, cranberry and pecan salad
This salad is good enough to serve as a main meal or a (rather filling) starter, but it also makes a lovely side dish – it’s particularly good with a roast chicken.
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- one butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3-4cm dice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g pecan nuts
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 2 tablespoons cold pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 180g (or thereabouts, it doesn't have to be precise) ) bag of mixed salad leaves
- 80g dried cranberries or dried cherries
- 150g feta cheese
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan/350F/Gas mark 4. Place the peeled and diced squash in a roasting tin, drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the ground cinnamon. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 40--45 minutes or until soft and caramelised.
- Place a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the pecan nuts for a couple of minutes or until toasted. They burn very very quickly, so don't leave the pan! When the nuts have toasted, remove from the heat and tip into a heat proof bowl.
- For the dressing, mix together the oil, orange juice, maple syrup, mustard and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Arrange the salad leaves in a large bowl and pour over most of the dressing. Add the roasted squash, pecan nuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese and pumpkin seeds. Pour over the remaining dressing and serve.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 586Total Fat 42gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 32gCholesterol 33mgSodium 466mgCarbohydrates 47gFiber 8gSugar 29gProtein 11g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be used as indicative figures only