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!

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.

Did you make this recipe?

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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95 comments on “Roasted Winter Squash, Cranberry, and Almond Salad with Lemon Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette”

  1. Just look at the colours! A beautiful and delicious looking salad :)

  2. You know I could totally drink balsamic too so this salad is just screaming my name. Love the vibrant colors too!

  3. I could eat this everyday too, this just my kind of salad!

  4. I’ve never tried kabocha. It looks so good!

  5. This is my idea of a perfect salad. And I totally agree with you on the balsamic vinaigrette thing. It makes everything taste a little better.

  6. This is my kind of salad. I have been loving your savory post lately; they are so vibrant and pretty. I could use a good roast salad recipe these days; nothing like roasting to get unwilling guest to eating their veggies

    • Glad you love the savory posts. I cannot bake 2 cakes, 2 pans of bars, and a batch of cookies every week in 2014. The pace of the baking was just insane. Plus with Jan. resolutions, it’s the perfect time for meals like this!

  7. I love the sweetness of winter squash in salads…this looks so good!! :)

  8. Wow! That has to be the most beautiful salad I’ve ever seen. Love all of the wholesome ingredients and variety of textures and colors.

  9. This looks delicious!- what beautiful colours and great photography!
    katie xx
    http://www.katieskitchenjournal.com

  10. This is such a gorgeous winter salad (and I think you know I’m a kabocha lover too). I have a little stash of 5 left and I’m not seeing them anymore (buttercup is still plentiful though). Costco has a great kale/shaved Brussels/cabbage/broccoli slaw mix that I’m hooked on and I like adding kabocha to it. Last week’s add-ins were sunflower seeds, raisins, and your peanut sauce. I have also found myself dipping kabocha in that! Cranberries, almonds, and balsamic is perfect together. I can get pretty excited about salads–they’re a regular part of my diet and I love seeing ideas to change them up some. Love these savory recipes!!

    • Well the savory recipes are going to continue b/c I cannot bake 2 cakes, 1 pan of brownies and a batch of cookies every week. I need a little break :) And want to showcase some of the meals I actually eat so you’re in luck! And yes kab squash is SO hard to come by. I bought a ton ton ton of it before Xmas and still have some, and of course, then I see mini adorable baby kab’s for sale at the reg groc store of all places. You just never know what they’re going to have. That Costco blend sounds great, doctored up even better!

  11. This is my kind of salad! Roasted squash is the BEST. Gorgeous.

  12. I eat Kabocha squash like it is my job! I am totally obsessed and in <3 with it!
    Salads are my favorite meals so I am dying to combine my squash <3 with this ah-may-zing looking salad! I could pour that lemon dijon balsamic vinaigrette all over my face and be a happy lady!

  13. Looks delicious! I bet the squash with the cranberry is an amazing combo. :)

  14. I am pretty sure I could eat this every day and never get sick of it either Averie! I am feasting with my eyes! What an explosion of colors. Beautiful!

  15. I love absolutely everything about this! Kabocha is one of my favorite of the squashes. And love the addition of the cranberries for a real kick and texture variety.

    • I was just thinking about you yesterday when I was on a long run and then when I editing these pics! Thanks for saying hi! xoxox And not surprised you like kabocha – they’re such an amazing squash!

  16. The colors and flavors in this salad are breathtaking! Pinned!

  17. I roast a squash pretty mush every single day. I adore them. Butternut is my favorite, but I really love them all. Plus, I eat almonds and balsamic like it is my job, so I am in love with this salad!! So pretty!

    • Ok have you tried kabocha? I think it blows the pants of butternut. It’s sweeter, more like a sweet potato. It’s got less ‘squashy’ taste to me and it’s firmer. I really don’t like mushy squash unless I’m pureeing it into a soup, and then it doesnt matter. But just to eat, I like it firmer and this is great. I mean butternut is fine but knowing you, you will flip for kab. Make it a point to go find some. It’s hard to find and they are often!!!! mislabeled by produce ppl in the groc store as kab when they’re really acorn or buttercup, so really check, but it’s worth it girl!!!

  18. Oh my gosh! The colors in the salad are incredible! I just started adding squash to my salads and it is soo good!

  19. So I’m a big nut for squash. This salad is gorgeous looking. I love colorful salads.

  20. The colors in this are amazing!! I could eat squash every single day, so this is going on my must make list!

  21. I’ll have a big bowl of this, with a side of the butternut squash soup I posted today, please! (But you can keep the almonds.)

    I LOVE these flavors. LOVE. And my go-to dressing is balsamic, mustard, and maple syrup. It goes well with this type of salad too.

  22. Oh man that salad sounds wonderful! Salad has been sounding so good lately and this definitely isn’t an exception. Great job A :)

  23. Add to the list of things I’ve never eaten: any winter squash besides butternut. And that’s usually in soup or ravioli. I know, I’m sheltered. I need to try it in salad – maybe it would get me to like salad more. :)

    • Omg kabocha squash blows the pants of butternut. It’s sweeter, more like a sweet potato. Which oh yes, I know you don’t eat those either. But it’s got less ‘squashy’ taste to me and it’s firmer. I really don’t like mushy squash unless I’m pureeing it into a soup, and then it doesnt matter. But just to eat, I like it firmer and this is great. I mean butternut, buttercup or acorn will all work though!

  24. I love roasted squash, this is such a gorgeous and colorful salad!

  25. this salad looks so wonderful and festive! I love the combination of sweet ans savory flavors Averie!

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