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. Such a beautiful salad! A color explosion!

  2. I have a kabocha squash sitting on my counter right now and I know exactly what I’m going to make with it tonight after seeing this post! Loving all the savory recipes you have been posting lately :)

    • I love that you are into kab! It’s not a common squash as compared to buttercup, b-nut, acorn, etc and I hope you enjoy the salad. LMK! 2014 is the year of more savory for me. Cannot do 2 cakes, 1 brownie, and batch of cookies every week. No one eats that much sugar and I am giving people real ideas for meals. Glad you like the posts!

  3. TOTALLY my kinda meal & such pretty photos Averie! Pinned as always :)

  4. Dried Cranberries and Almonds are my favorite thing to add to salads. I’m like you, always craving salads or soups. In fact, that is almost all I ate when I was pregnant! :) Pass on the shakes, just give me the salad. Weirdo, I know!

    Loving this salad Averie, the colors are beautiful and make the picture pop! Pinning!

    • Thanks for pinning & that’s amazing you liked veggies when you were preg. It was the ONE TIME in my life I craved cheesey salty white carby food. That is not something I ever want!! but give me some white bread, crackers, pizza crust, I was so happy :)

  5. Such a beautiful, colourful salad! Pinned and I can’t wait to try it. Great tip on roasting the squash whole, I’ve been in way too many dangerous situations trying to cut a squash raw and no matter how sharp the knife, those guys just don’t budge! Going to try this next time.

  6. Can I just say – GORGEOUS!!! I love all the flavors! Pinned!

  7. The Colours of your Salad are so lovely
    It looks Fabulous
    Will have to make it

  8. Beautiful photos! And great idea to roast the squash whole … thanks!

  9. What a gorgeous salad! Beautiful pictures as well. Putting this on my To Make list!

  10. Averie, you’re my go-to girl for sweets! It’s great to see what you eat the majority of the time! Every baker needs a great arsenal of salads. It’s all about balance.

  11. I was just showing my mom your spaghetti squash post and looking at other butternut squash recipes. She just bought a few and wants to make some new things! This salad looks gorgeous!! So beautiful, almonds and cranberries are some of my favorite things in salads! And vinaigrettes are so personal!!

  12. I want to jump into my computer screen and eat this salad. Gorgeous colors!

  13. Oh Averie! This looks so delicious! I love salads like this and yours is just perfect!! I have 4 butternut squash that need to be used and I need to make a salad like yours. I love the dressing!

  14. Such a gorgeous salad Averie!!

  15. i am now dying to try the Kabocha squash. I’ve seen it in the store but never knew! Great and colorful salad :) Pinned.

  16. I was just showing my mom your spaghetti squash post and looking at other butternut squash recipes. She just bought a few and wants to make some new things! This salad looks gorgeous!! So beautiful, almonds and cranberries are some of my favorite things in salads! And vinaigrettes are so personal, there are few I really enjoy myself.

  17. I also always change the ratio of my salad dressings, but most of the time it’s about 50-50 vinegar-olive oil. This salad looks pretty – it’s nice to eat with my eyes first :)

  18. This looks amazing!! I’m a huge balsamic fan too, and with dried cranberries it’s the best! Love the squash in here too. Such a perfect winter salad. Pinned!

  19. This looks like the perfect winter salad! Especially since it’s 80 degrees here today

  20. This is such a pretty salad! And that dressing – can I just drink it?! Lemon and balsamic sound so good. This is perfect for making all those resolutions easy!

  21. For me the trickiest part about kabocha isn’t finding it. It’s slicing that bugger! GREG

  22. I could eat this everyday, too! Maybe I should… instead of brownies 4 times a week. Winter isn’t going to last forever! I need to be able to fit through the doorways in the summer time.
    This recipe is so colorful and very eye-appealing! Have a great and wonderful weekend with your sweet little family, Averie. (=

  23. The colors of this salad are so vibrant and beautiful! We defiantly need some more color in Portland! This will add a touch to our bright sunny day!

  24. I wanted to make this because my own variations have come close, but never this exact combo. Love the lemon in the vinaigrette–I have extra and will be eating it again tomorrow! I roasted a kabocha for myself, but…..Jon doesn’t really care for it. I made him try another bite just to be sure, but he said he wouldn’t ever have a craving for it. Crazy man. I was utterly shocked because he loves sweet potatoes (so that’s what he got on his salad). Oh well, more kabocha for me!! Anyway, this was a big bowl of colorful goodness with great flavors and texture. Your recipes made my weekend meals easy, delicious, and of course fun! :)

    • So glad you made this and liked the vinaigrette and have extra for tomorrow, too. It’s funny how some people have strong feelings regarding kab squash and sweet potatoes. Scott is the same way although he’ll eat both, he much prefers sweet potatoes. I like both but I think squash is a better ‘value’ so that way I get to eat more…cookies later on :)

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