We ate this salad for dinner 3 times last week. I just can’t get enough of it. I think it is the best salad I’ve ever had. It is a great combination of salty and slightly sweet ingredients. There are different textures in it as well. And it is such a wonderful salad for fall with the orange color of the butternut squash together with the deep maroon of the Craisins.
Have you ever roasted butternut squash before? It is really easy. All you have to do is slice off the outer skin, cut it into slices, spoon out any seeds or pulp, and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. It doesn’t take long if you have a good sharp knife. Then you toss it with some olive oil and a small amount of real maple syrup, throw it in the oven for 20 minutes, and it is perfectly done. The tiny bit of maple syrup gives it the most amazing flavor and helps it to get slightly brown and crusty on the outside. If you like roasted vegetables, you will just love this salad.
The thing that makes this salad great, though, is the dressing. It contains apple cider vinegar and brown sugar, 2 wonderful fall flavors that go so well with squash. It is similar to the dressing I use on my Grilled Apple Salad. In fact, if you are not a squash person, try using apples instead. I just want you to be able to taste this dressing. It will spoil you, though. You will become a dressing snob and never be able to use bottled dressing again. You will completely turn your nose up when walking down the dressing aisle of the grocery store and not even glance over at them. It wasn’t my intention to become a snob. I couldn’t help it. I ate the dressing and before I knew it I was hooked. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. There is also one other thing you need to know. You may start running towards the butternut squash aisle in the grocery store too. I was so happy last week when I saw them piled up in the corner. I had to refrain from clapping. After all, I didn’t want to cause a scene. But if you see someone at the store, laughing and clapping in the corner, now you will know why. They must have eaten this salad and are headed for more butternut squash. Please don’t judge them. This could be you one day.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Brown Sugar-Cider Vinaigrette
For the Salad:
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and 3/4 inch diced
- good olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (don’t use the fake stuff)
- kosher salt (regular is fine too)
- 1/3 to a 1/2 of a bag of arugula
- 1/2 c walnut halves, toasted (untoasted is still good)
- 1/2 of a purple onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup Craisins
- 1/2 c feta
- freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the butternut squash cubes in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, the maple syrup, and 1 tsp. salt, and toss with the squash until it is evenly coated with the ingredients.
- Place the coated squash on a sheet pan in a single layer, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until tender and slightly browned on one side. Remove from oven and let set until needed.
- While the squash is roasting, make the dressing (see recipe below).
- Place arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, walnuts, Craisins, and onions.
- Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss.
- Add in feta, and toss gently just a little bit.
- Grate fresh parmesan with a potato peeler to garnish. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Brown Sugar-Cider Vinaigrette
- 2/3 c canola oil
- 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Whisk together oil, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and salt until blended.
Dressing adapted from a recipe in Southern Living Magazine. Salad slightly adapted from Ina Garten.