Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad (Sweet, Savory, Healthy)

Sometimes, the best dishes are all about delicious contrast. That’s certainly the case with a classic butternut squash and arugula salad. The sweet, nutty flavor of roasted squash pairs beautifully with the peppery arugula’s zing.


Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

A butternut squash and arugula salad isn’t just about the tastes. Enjoy the interplay of textures!  The warmth of the roasted squash meets the fresh arugula’s vibrant crunch. From my experience, I find it’s even more satisfying with some toasted nuts or seeds sprinkled on top for extra textural fun.

Versatility is Key

Another thing I love about this type of salad? It’s the perfect side dish for heartier meals, but hearty enough to be a light main course in its own right. Especially in the fall, when butternut squash is at its best, this is a recipe I return to time and time again. A tangy vinaigrette is the final touch to bring all these ingredients together in perfect harmony.

Sweet, Savory, & Perfect for Fall

  • Seasonal flavors: Emphasizes the use of fall ingredients like butternut squash for a taste of the season.
  • Sweet & savory balance: Highlights the interplay of maple-sweetened squash, tangy cranberries, peppery arugula, and rich walnuts.
  • Well-balanced meal: Offers a satisfying combination of flavors and textures for a complete, light meal.

Beyond the Salad Bowl

  • Meal prep friendly: Stresses the ease of roasting the squash and prepping ingredients ahead of time for quick weekday assembly.
  • Holiday worthy: Positions the salad as a beautiful and healthy option for festive Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s meals.
  • Leftover inspiration: Provides ideas (Butternut Squash Soup, Noodles, Quinoa) to repurpose leftover squash, reducing food waste.

Nutritional Information

Saturated Fat1g
Polyunsaturated Fat7g
Monounsaturated Fat1g
Vitamin A18799IU
Vitamin C41mg

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad Recipe

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: SaladsCuisine: American


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This delicious and easy-to-make roasted butternut squash salad is packed with flavor and nutrients. It’s perfect for a light lunch or a healthy side dish.


  • 1 package (around 14 ounces) pre-cut organic butternut squash

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided for roasting and dressing)

  • ¼ of a small red onion (thinly sliced)

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 package (approximately 5 ounces) baby arugula

  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

  • 4 ounces of herbed goat cheese (crumbled)


  • Preheat and Prep: Start by preheating your oven to 425°F (218 °C). Cut your butternut squash into smaller, even chunks for faster roasting.
  • Season and Roast: Spread the squash chunks on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp of oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender and slightly browned, giving the pan a good stir halfway through.
  • Build the Vinaigrette: While the squash roasts, make your dressing. Thinly slice a red onion. In a large bowl, whisk together white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and the remaining 3 tbsp of oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Assemble and Serve: Add the arugula, red onion, pecans, and roasted squash to the vinaigrette. Toss to coat everything evenly. Divide the salad among 4 plates and finish it off with crumbled goat cheese for a touch of creamy tang.


  • For a sweeter salad, drizzle with maple syrup when roasting the squash.
  • Feel free to add your favorite chopped nuts or seeds to the salad, such as almonds or pumpkin seeds.
  • Leftover roasted squash can be used in other dishes, such as soup or pasta.


The beauty of this roasted butternut squash salad recipe lies in its versatility. With its beautiful colors and mix of flavors, it’s the perfect base for substitutions and add-ins. Here are a few delicious ideas to make it your own:

  • Try a Different Squash: Acorn squash is a perfect swap for butternut. If you’re lucky enough to find the super sweet honeynut squash, use it for an extra dose of fall flavor.
  • Roasted Beets: Add diced roasted beets when you assemble the salad for an extra level of earthy flavor and gorgeous color.
  • Protein Power: Channel the inspiration from the Today Show recipe and add chickpeas for a vegetarian boost. For meat-eaters, grilled chicken or salmon pair beautifully with the salad’s flavors.
  • Swap the Vinegar: For a slightly sweeter dressing, use an equal amount of apple cider or apple juice. For the best flavor, stick with unfiltered, unpasteurized varieties.
  • Mix Up the Nuts: Almonds and pecans offer a similar nuttiness. Try toasted, sliced almonds for a change of pace.
  • Feta or Goat Cheese: Change up the cheese! Crumbled fresh feta provides a tangy, salty alternative to goat cheese.
  • Dressing Alternatives: If you’re short on time, a drizzle of a good quality lemon balsamic vinaigrette works wonderfully. For a vegan-friendly, plant-based meal, simply omit the cheese.
  • Beyond the Salad: Leftover roast squash is the perfect starting point for a hearty butternut squash quinoa salad!

Spice It Up

While this salad shines on its own, a touch of spice can take it to new heights. Try these warming additions when roasting your butternut squash:

  • Cinnamon: A sprinkle adds a subtle sweetness and a classic fall aroma.
  • Nutmeg: This spice brings an earthy warmth that complements the squash beautifully.

RELATED: Kale Chickpea Salad

How to Serve

This two-for-one recipe is a healthy winner for both weekday lunches and elegant holiday sides. Here are some ideas to make it shine:

  • Lunch: Serve the salad warm with a fresh slice of bread, or for a gluten-free option, try a slice of almond flour bread for a heartier meal.
  • Dinner: This colorful side dish is perfect alongside simple weeknight meals like baked chicken breasts. It adds a burst of fall flavor to your plate.
  • Holiday Side: Allow the squash salad to be the star of the show and really show off your hosting skills! Serve it as an appetizer in a smaller salad portion for upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

How to Make Ahead and Store

This easy butternut squash arugula salad is perfect for making ahead! Here’s how to prep components in advance and store them safely:

Butternut Squash

  • Roast as directed. Allow the squash to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days – you can enjoy it warm or cold in your salad.

Warm Cider Vinaigrette

  • Prepare the vinaigrette as directed and transfer to a mason jar or other airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Salad Greens & Add-Ins

  • Wash and thoroughly dry your chosen greens. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. For extra freshness, layer a paper towel inside to absorb moisture.
  • Any cheese, like shredded parmesan, can be stored right alongside the greens in its container.
  • Toasted walnuts are best prepped ahead and stored in a sealed container on the kitchen counter to maintain their crunch.

Assembling and Leftovers

  • Assemble the salad just before serving to keep the greens crisp.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Remember, while the roasted squash and other elements stay delicious, green salads tend to get a little wilted. It will still be tasty the next day!

Expert Tips

Mastering a roasted butternut salad takes just a few simple tricks!  Here are my best tips to take your salad to perfection:

  • Cool Before Mixing: Let your roasted butternut squash and the salad dressing cool slightly before mixing with the greens. This ensures your greens stay super crisp and don’t wilt.
  • Dress Right Before Serving: This will keep the integrity of the greens and the remaining ingredients intact as you assemble your beautiful salad.
  • Fresh Cider Flavor: With cold weather and the holiday season upon us, look for fresh apple cider at grocery stores or your local farmer’s market. It’ll bring out that fresh apple flavor in your dressing beautifully.

RELATED: Apple and Goat Cheese Salad

What Makes Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad Special?

This butternut squash and arugula salad stands out for several reasons:

The Seasonal Angle

This salad truly captures the essence of fall flavors. The sweetness of roasted butternut squash, a quintessential fall ingredient, pairs perfectly with the crispness of seasonal arugula. For a complete autumnal feast, serve this salad alongside creamy butternut squash soup or a warm loaf of crusty bread.

Texture Focus

This salad isn’t just about flavor – it’s a delightful symphony of textures! The soft, roasted butternut squash melts in your mouth, contrasting with the vibrant crunch of fresh arugula. Crumbly goat cheese adds a creamy element, while toasted nuts bring pops of satisfying crunch to each bite.

Health Benefits of Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

This salad is a powerhouse of nutrients! Butternut squash offers a rich source of vitamin A, important for healthy vision and a strong immune system. Arugula is packed with antioxidants and bone-strengthening vitamin K. Olive oil provides heart-healthy fats, while pecans add protein and fiber. Goat cheese contributes calcium and protein for a satisfying, well-rounded meal packed with health benefits.

RELATED: Lemon Spring Pasta Salad


This roasted butternut squash salad is a true taste of fall. The sweetness of the squash, the peppery arugula, the tangy vinaigrette, and the crunch of the nuts create a delightful mix of textures and flavors. Whether enjoyed as a light lunch, a healthy side dish, or a festive addition to your holiday table, this salad is sure to leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat butternut squash raw?

While you can eat butternut squash raw, most people much prefer the tender goodness it has when roasted. If you want to try a raw preparation, try slicing it into thin ribbons and tossing it with a zesty lemon vinaigrette dressing.

What does butternut squash pair well with?

Butternut squash is versatile and pairs well with just about anything! Roasting it with maple syrup brings out its sweet qualities, while savory herbs like thyme, sage, or rosemary are delicious compliments too.

Do you need to peel butternut squash?

The skin is completely edible when roasted! However, if you dislike the texture, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin. To remove the seeds, use a sturdy spoon or even an ice cream scoop.

What are 3 ways you can eat butternut squash?

Here are three delicious options:

  1. Classic Butternut Squash Soup: Creamy, comforting, and perfect for chilly days.
  2. Roasted Butternut Squash: A simple side dish that highlights its natural sweetness.
  3. Butternut Squash in Curries & Stews: Adds a wonderful depth of flavor and beautiful color.

How do you eat raw butternut squash?

Yep, you can eat butternut squash raw! It has a carrot-like texture, which holds up well in crunchy salads or slaws. If you’re opting for raw squash rather than cooked, start by peeling away the tough outer skin. Keep in mind, though, you can eat the skin once it’s cooked!

Can you eat butternut squash skin?

Absolutely! There’s no need to peel it. Simply halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and chop it into chunks. Roast it and add it to warm winter salads, curries, stews, or soups.  You can even roast the seeds – eat them as a snack or sprinkle them over your finished dish.

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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