Beautiful, delicious and satisfying as a vegetarian main or side, Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cinnamon Dressing will get rave reviews at your next holiday or dinner event.
The caramelization of the butternut squash and onions add richness to the salad and the warm cinnamon vinaigrette dressing compliments the salad with hints of earthy sweet, tart and cinnamon. The result is yummy comfort food. And I absolutely love the gorgeous color combination. Color on the plate was etched in my brain by my mother at an early age.
So what do you serve this butternut squash salad with? Well, last week I served it with a simple herbed salmon fillet on top. You can also serve it with sliced marinated chicken. Or, in fact any protein including tofu. Keep in mind, however, that this salad is very satisfying on its own as a vegetarian meal, perhaps with a cup of soup and/or some crusty bread.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Greens: I use a spring mix. Arugula, baby spinach, butter/Boston lettuce and baby romaine would all work well too.
- Dressing: I tried various options when developing the cinnamon dressing. You can substitute the white balsamic vinegar (get the best quality you can) with apple cider vinegar, but I suggest using less cider vinegar – maybe just 1 tablespoon – and adding a bit more syrup to balance the extra tang. Needless to say, play around with the amount of cinnamon you like. I don’t like it to be overwhelming. And, consider adding a pinch of nutmeg if you like.
- Garnishes: Any chopped toasted nuts or seeds will add some nice crunch. Other garnishes could include crumbled goat cheese or ricotta, fresh thyme or pomegranate seeds (more color!)
- Nutrition: If you don’t mind doubling the calories and carbs, you can roast sweet potato instead of butternut squash. While squash is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and E, sweet potato does provide more fiber and protein.
- Leave out the onions. This will save you some hands on time and washing an extra pan. I’m not suggesting this, though, if you you have the time. The onions add great flavor and texture.
Make Ahead Butternut Squash Salad
- All components (squash, onions, dressing) can be made up to a day or two ahead and kept in the fridge, covered. Bring the butternut squash and onions to room temperature before serving or warm them for 30-60 seconds in the microwave. Assemble salad before serving, heat the dressing in the microwave, drizzle over the salad and serve.
Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cinnamon Dressing
- 4 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups salad greens I use a spring mix
- garnish options: chopped toasted nuts, crumbled goat cheese
Cinnamon Vinaigrette Dressing
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (good quality)
- 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- Heat oven to 425F. Line a sided pan with parchment or foil sprayed with oil.
- ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Toss butternut squash with 2 tsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If desired, add a pinch of cinnamon and/or sugar. Lay in single layer on pan. Roast for 20-30 minutes, flipping once, halfway through, until lightly browned in spots.
- CARAMELIZE ONIONS: Heat medium size pan to Medium. Heat 2 tsp oil and add onions. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until soft, translucent and lightly browned.
- MAKE DRESSING: Whisk all ingredients in a glass measuring cup or bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust to your liking - adding more salt, maple syrup, Dijon, cinnamon if needed or a splash of water or orange juice to thin it out.
- ASSEMBLE: Lay out salad on a plate or wide mouthed bowl/platter. Add butternut squash and onions on top. Warm the dressing for 30-40 seconds in microwave. Drizzle evenly over salad. You may not need it all. Garnish with chopped nuts and/or crumbled goat cheese if desired. Serve. Alternatively, toss everything together and serve.
Other butternut squash recipes you might like: