This roasted butternut squash salad is bursting with flavor, texture, and vibrant autumn produce. It has quinoa, Brussels sprouts, and the surprising addition of roasted grapes, which give the recipe sweet and savory notes. It’s a perfect holiday salad!
A lot of folks associate salads with summertime, and I understand. My appetite for big, colorful salads is strongest in the warm weather months, when cool produce is appealing and there are so many things to choose from at the farmer’s market.
Even so, I’m also a big fan of fall and winter salads. When the weather turns cold, my salads become heartier. It’s already my tendency to create meal-sized salads. Come November, I take this effort to a new level, adding hearty roasted root vegetables and grains to nearly every salad that I make.
This roasted butternut squash salad is a perfect example. It has the sweet, hearty, browning butternut squash cubes, of course. But it’s also got quinoa for plant protein and satiety. And it’s full of additional, vibrant fall produce. This includes Brussels sprouts, spinach, and roasted red grapes.
Yes, roasted grapes!
The first time I heard about roasting grapes, I was surprised. I’d tried roasting apples, pears, and some stone fruits, but it had never occurred to me to roast grapes. Let alone with squash.
I’ve since learned that roasted grapes are a traditional dish in several parts of Italy. They’re often served with sausage or on bruschetta.
Moreover, roasted grapes work very well with butternut squash. The grapes highlight the natural sweetness of squash. Yet the sweetness butternut squash is subtle enough that the pairing doesn’t taste overwhelmingly sugary.
Roasted butternuts squash is an autumn staple for me. I make baking sheet after baking sheet, and the roasted cubes end up in my salads, bowls, pasta dishes, and more.
I generally roast butternut squash at 400F. Before roasting, I toss the squash in olive or avocado oil and season it well with salt and pepper.
I find that squash takes 25-35 minutes to roast. At the end of its roasting time, the squash should be gently browning and crisping at the edges, and all of the pieces should be tender.
There’s so much seasonal, autumnal goodness in this salad bowl. Here are the main ingredients.
You’ll need about one pound of cubed, peeled butternut squash in order to prepare the roasted butternut squash salad. This is about four cups, or the amount you’ll get from a medium squash after you’ve broken it down. If it’s available in your grocery store, you can also use pre-peeled and cut squash.
It’s also an option to use frozen, cubed butternut squash in the recipe! If you do this, I recommend roasting the squash directly from frozen, rather than defrosting and then roasting. The squash will remain firmer this way.
I like to use red, seedless grapes for the salad. However, you can use green grapes if you prefer them, or if they’re what you have on hand.
The Brussels sprouts in this salad are roasted along with the butternut squash. You’ll need about three quarters of a pound, or three cups of halved sprouts.
Cooked quinoa adds protein, fiber, and satiety to the roasted butternut squash salad. I like to use white quinoa, but you could use red or black quinoa if you prefer.
Additionally, the cooked whole grain in the recipe doesn’t need to be quinoa. If you prefer, you can use cooked farro, barley, wheat berries, or spelt berries.
I created the salad with tender spring mix from Earthbound Farm. I love Earthbound greens: they’re always fresh, flavorful, and organically grown. You could use a more bitter leafy green if you like, such as baby kale or arugula. Yet I like how the mildness of spring mix allows other components of the salad to shine.
The roasted butternut squash salad features a tangy, mustardy vinaigrette. I make it with minced shallots, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar (white wine vinegar is a fine substitute) and olive oil.
I also think that a small amount of something sweet makes salad dressings more well-rounded and takes them to another level. So, I add a little bit of maple syrup to the dressing. You can omit it if you like; it’s up to you.
Definitely not. The salad will work well with other winter squash varieties, such as delicata, acorn, kabocha, honeynut, and red kuri. All of these lend themselves well to roasting.
The salad is perfect for holiday parties or entertaining during the early winter months. In addition, you can prepare a number of the components ahead of time, so that assembly for you and your loved ones is quick and easy.
The roasted vegetables can be roasted up to three days before tossing the salad together. You can also cook the quinoa up to three days before salad assembly.
Meanwhile, the vinaigrette for the roasted butternut squash salad can be prepared up to four days in advance.
Once you combine all of the ingredients, the salad leftovers will be good for 1-2 days. After that, the greens will start to wilt a bit. So, if you make it and you have leftovers, be sure to share them quickly.
With all of the hustle and commotion during the holiday season, it’s a relief to share food that feeds a crowd, is easy to prepare ahead of time, and is as wholesome as it is enjoyable to eat.
While I love preparing hearty holiday entrées with grains, beans, and vegan meats, I also think it’s fun to share a salad recipe that’s worthy of main event status. This roasted butternut squash salad is one of them—and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!