Winter Salad with Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette
This winter salad is full of roasted butternut squash, thinly sliced pear, feta cheese and dried cherries, all tossed with greens in an irresistible toasted pecan vinaigrette. An easy and beautiful salad that’s perfect for the winter and fall months.
I love a hearty and colorful salad with a flavorful homemade vinaigrette! And this fresh and totally delicious salad that features roasted butternut squash totally hits the spot! A fresh and vibrant salad that’s the perfect side dish for any occasion.
First up is one of my favorite veggies – butternut squash! Butternut squash is considered to be a nutritional superstar, and it happens to be pretty delicious too! My top two favorite way to enjoy butternut squash is in this Butternut Squash Soup and this yummy roasted butternut squash salad. This salad is full of different winter flavors, textures and vibrant colors. It will have everyone coming back for seconds.
Of course, you can serve the salad with any favorite dressing or vinaigrette, but I highly suggest you give the homemade Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette a try. It’s super simple and quick to stir together and compliments this salad so well.
Now, lets talk about how to put all of these ingredients together for the BEST seasonal salad!
How Do You Make An Easy Winter Salad?
The first step for making this winter salad recipe is to roast the butternut squash. While the butternut squash is roasting, I like to make the toasted pecan vinaigrette. You can also use this time to prepare all of the other ingredients, like measuring out the greens, feta and dried cherries and slicing the pear.
What Is The Best Way To Prepare Roasted Butternut Squash?
- Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400° F.
- If you did not buy pre-cut squash, you’ll need to dice it up. Slice off both ends and then peel the squash. Cut the squash in half, vertically.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds.
- Cut the squash into even 1/2 to 1-inch cubes. It’s a good idea to cut the pieces all the same size, so the squash will cook evenly. If a visual tutorial might help with cutting the squash, check out this helpful guide (video included).
- Evenly spread the cubed squash on a large sheet pan and spray with cooking spray or toss in olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
- Cook the squash for about 20 minutes and until tender, but not overly soft and mushy.
- Feel free to use your preferred amounts for the ingredients. When I make salads, I like to use the amount that feels right as I go. For example, feta cheese can be a bit strong, so I go light with it and I love dried cherries, so I add plenty to mine. Add in more of what you love and if you think of another ingredient that you want to include, by all means, make this salad your own.
- Most grocery stores sell pre-cut butternut squash and I would definitely take advantage. You might want to make the cubes smaller, but it will still save you lots of time.
- This homemade toasted pecan vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
- Once prepared, this winter salad is best served immediately.
Winter Salad Variations:
I LOVE this salad just the way it is, but feel free to get creative and change up the ingredients.
- Nuts: Try almonds, walnuts or pine nuts instead of pecans. You could also try using candied pecans.
- Lettuce: You can use baby kale or spinach instead of mixed greens.
- Cheese: Feel free to use goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, blue cheese or shaved Parmesan cheese instead of feta cheese.
- Mix-ins: There are a variety of other ingredients that would be amazing in this salad. Great options are pomegranate seeds, thins slices of apple, sliced red onion, roasted Brussels sprouts or cherry tomatoes. You can even swap out the butternut squash for roasted sweet potato.
- Protein: Make this salad a satisfying meal by adding grilled chicken, shrimp or fish on top.
- Grains: Give this salad a boost of heartiness by adding leftover cooked grains, such as brown rice or quinoa.
This winter salad is light and refreshing yet packed with flavorful and hearty ingredients. It’s the perfect side dish for any meal and it pairs well with most proteins including pork, chicken and fish. It’s also a great choice for a potluck.
More Great Salad Recipes
If you try this winter salad recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Winter Salad with Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette
For the salad
- 3 cups coarsely chopped butternut squash cubes
- 6 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 small ripe Bartlett pear, thinly sliced
- 1/2 (4 ounce) container crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
For the vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss squash with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Place squash in a single layer on a baking sheet pan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and roast 20 minutes or until squash is just tender and begins to brown. Remove from oven, and cool 10 minutes.
- Toss together squash, greens and next three ingredients in a large salad serving bowl or platter.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together balsamic vinegar, sugar, shallots, mustard and salt & pepper. Add oil in slowly and whisk until smooth. Stir in toasted pecans.
- Serve salad with vinaigrette.