Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

A salad loaded with roasted squash, chunky veggies, crunchy almonds, and chewy dried cranberries is my perfect meal.

The balsamic-based vinaigrette just seals the deal because I could literally drink balsamic. No shame.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

Yes, I make a ton of cookiescakesgooey stuff, and desserts dripping in chocolate, but when it comes right down to what I crave, it’s plants. Really it is.

Since I don’t have a supersonic metabolism, filling up on veggies rather than brownies is how I can still bake as much as I do, yet fit into my clothes and through doorways. Always good.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

I roasted a kabocha squash, my favorite squash, and diced it. Kabocha can be a bit tricky to find, and any hearty winter squash like butternut, buttercup, or acorn will work.

I recommend roasting the squash whole. Turn on the oven, place squash on a baking tray, and roast for about 45 minutes, or until it has some give when you squeeze it. This whole-roasting method is so much easier than trying to hack through a rock hard raw squash, scoop out stubborn seeds and filaments, and it allows the squash to behave as it’s own self-steaming unit. 

After about 45 minutes, you’ll be able to easily glide your knife through the soft flesh, and you can clean it without struggle. If it happens to be a little undercooked or firm, put the halves back on the baking tray and roast until soft.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad that's healthy to help you stay on track!

Prepare a bed of greens, add diced carrots or other favorite vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels’s sprouts or whatever you love. Then add the diced squash, cranberries, and almonds. If you have other dried fruit like golden raisins or apricots, walnuts or pecans, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Use your favorites.

Salads like these are a great way to use up odds and ends in your fridge or freezer from random frozen peas or corn to cucumbers or avocado. The more veggies, the merrier.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

I drizzled the salad with an easy whisk-together vinaigrette that takes seconds to make. Use your favorite dijon or brown mustard, whisked together with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and salt, before whisking in olive oil.

Vinaigrettes and salad dressings are so personal, and even when I try, they don’t come out exactly exactly the same every time. Probably because I rarely measure the ingredients, but also my tastes vary on any given day, so tinkering around with the balance of flavors is key.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad that's healthy to help you stay on track!

Some days I want more acid and a bigger squirt of lemon (or orange) is preferred. Other days I need more sugar, or more salt, or sometimes I want a really pungent blast of balsamic with very little oil.

Play around with the ratio of ingredients until you hit on a flavor combo that you enjoy.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

I’m all about texture, and this is my kind of salad with so many diverse textures included. The soft, slightly warm squash is a great contrast to the cool greens.

The almonds add a hearty crunch and contain plant-based protein and healthy fat to stay full and satisfied, while the cranberries add tart sweetness and chewiness.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

The balsamic vinaigrette is punchy and packed with tangy, intense flavor. The mustard and lemon take a backseat to the robust balsamic vinegar.

I need a couple tablespoons of brown sugar to balance the flavors. Sweet, tangy, sour, and savory, all in one and the olive oil adds a comforting touch.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

Eating vegan, gluten-free, and sticking to your healthy resolutions is easy when your meal leaves you satisfied.

I could eat this every day and not get sick of it.

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, GF) - A hearty & satisfying salad to help you stay healthy & on track!

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Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

A salad loaded with roasted squash, chunky veggies, crunchy almonds, and chewy dried cranberries is my perfect meal. The soft, slightly warm squash is a great contrast to the cooling greens. I used kabocha, use your favorite squash, and follow the easy whole-roasting method outlines. The almonds add a hearty crunch and contain plant-based protein and healthy fat to stay full and satisfied, while the cranberries add tart sweetness and chewiness. The balsamic vinaigrette is punchy and packed with tangy, intense flavor. The mustard and lemon take a backseat to the robust balsamic vinegar. Sweet, tangy, sour, and savory, all in one. Use my recipe as a guideline, and then tinker with the ratios of ingredients that taste best to you. Eating vegan, gluten-free, and sticking to your healthy resolutions is easy with satisfying meals like this. Use the recipe to clean out the odds and ends in your fridge or freeze and mix-and-match with your favorite veggies.

Yield: 1 large salad + extra squash & extra vinaigrette

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 40 to 45 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Ingredients:

Salad
1 winter squash, roasted, cleaned, and diced into 1-inch cubes (kabocha, butternut, buttercup, acorn, etc.)
2 cups mixed salad greens
half of 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or craisins, golden raisins, raisins)
1/2 cup almonds (I used unsalted raw almonds, use your favorite nut; lightly toasted if preferred)
Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette - Makes about 1/2 cup
juice of half of 1 large lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon or brown, grainy mustard
1+ tablespoon(s) brown sugar, or to taste
1+ teaspoon(s) salt, to taste
about 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Wash squash and place it whole on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until squash has some give when squeezed.
  2. Slice squash open vertically, remove seeds and filaments; discard.
  3. Squash flesh should be fork-tender and soft. If it's not quite done, return halves to the baking sheet, cut side up, and continue to bake until done. Butternut sometimes takes longer than kabocha, buttercup, or acorn, closer to 60 minutes rather than 40-45. Baking times will vary based on squash size.
  4. Dice about 1 cup squash into 1-inch pieces for the salad; set aside. Extra squash can be stored for up to 5 days airtight in the refrigerator. Try any of these 12 squash recipes for the remainder, or just eat with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar, or dunked in extra vinaigrette.
  5. Place salad greens on a large plate.
  6. Evenly sprinkle with diced squash, carrot, cranberries, and almonds; set aide.
  7. Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette - In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the oil and whisk to incorporate.
  8. Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk vigorously to incorporate.
  9. Taste dressing and see what it needs and adjust accordingly.
  10. Drizzle over salad and serve. Extra dressing will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Re-whisk before using the leftover portion on future salads.

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93 Responses to “Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette”

  1. #
    51
    Laura Dembowski — January 19, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Ugh, I have the slowest metabolism. I’m always eating tons of vegetables too. This looks incredible and it’s great that it is so versatile. I could drink balsamic too.

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Jocelyn@BruCrew Life — January 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Seriously, this salad looks almost too pretty to eat!! Now I’m definitely in the mood for a big juicy salad!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 19th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Thanks, Jocelyn! You are so sweet :)

      Reply

  3. #
    53
    Patty — January 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Hi Averie!

    You don’t know this but you are my friend! I was lucky enough to stumble upon your site several months ago and it has become my FAVORITE go-to site. I truly appreciate all the time and energy you put into your blog. It is evident that you care so much about not only the content but about your readers! I love all the tips you take time to add, all the beautiful pictures, the way you stay current and relevant (you just “know” what we want to see next!), your writing style, and well just about everything about Averie Cooks. I have tried probably a dozen or so of your recipes and each one has been amazing! I love, love, love all the sweet stuff but now I’m really loving the savory stuff you’ve been posting!

    I read all your posts and the comments from your readers. I know most of the comments are from people who have yet to try the recipe. Well, I always want to hear from someone who has actually tried it so I’m going to be that person today! Mind you, I have never commented on ANY blog before. :)

    I made this salad yesterday and we (hubby, sister-in-law, me) LOVED it! All the flavors together were AH-Mazing! The salad dressing was soooooo good! I, too, could drink balsamic. :) I have already had requests to make it again today. Good thing I knew I would love it and doubled up on the dressing.

    Can I tell you that I also tried the Cheese, Black Beans & Corn Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Crema? OMGosh! Made them twice already. The avocado crema is a MUST and I can pretty much drink that up too. It really makes that dish. LOVED it!

    Now do you know why I call you my friend? I feel like we know each other. Your taste buds seem like mine! My kids (2 teenagers) hear me say, “Averie says…” all the time.

    I am SO sorry for the long post. I didn’t intend for it to be that way. Let me just add that I became mostly vegetarian (sometimes fish) last June and I think that’s how I found you. You had me at the Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 22nd, 2014 at 8:51 am

      What a lovely comment and thanks for reading, appreciating the time and energy that I put into my site and recipes, and for trying the recipes, and then writing back! It’s always so helpful when I read blogs to hear from ppl who have actually made the recipe, and it’s great that you’ve tried this one and took the time to write. Glad you love the dressing & doubled it up!

      And that the sweet potatoes & dough balls also get high marks. That’s wonderful and thanks so much for your support! :) Glad you’ve been enjoying the savory stuff, too!

      Reply

  4. #
    54
    Erin | Meaningful Eats — January 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Gorgeous salad! And such a great combination of flavors!

    Reply

  5. #
    55
    Nutmeg Nanny — January 29, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Now this has my name all over it!! I absolutely love vibrant salads like this :) the roasted squash is perfect!

    Reply

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