Last year around this time, I visited my BFF Mer in central Illinois. She’s a foodie too, so we’re often discussing and sharing recipes. We also share the same love for Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa. During my visit, we made this salad — a recipe from Ina’s Back to Basics cookbook — and I was inspired to make it again this fall. Slightly more time and ingredient-intensive than your average salad (but it’s worth it — trust me), this roasted butternut squash version isn’t only delicious, it’s beautiful. Perfect for a main course (which is how my husband and I enjoyed it) or as a starter course, this salad is a great way to showcase butternut squash — one of my favorite fall foods.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette (serves 4 appetizer salads; or 2 main course salads)
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics
What you need:
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into approximately 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (use the good stuff!)
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 oz arugula
- 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
How you do it:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the diced butternut squash in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and place squash on a sheet pan. Roast the squash for 20-25 minutes, turning once while roasting, until fork tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
- 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 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the toasted walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette (you probably won’t use it all) over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.