I’ve been busy this past week working on my Thanksgiving menu. I typically have the usual Thanksgiving staples on the menu – turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, etc. – but I also like to change it up a little every year with some different sides and desserts. One thing I always try to include is some type of salad, preferably including some leafy greens. And really, although we tend to think of lettuce and other greens as being only suitable for summer fare, leafy greens are actually cool-weather crops and go perfectly well on the autumn table.
And this salad is full of fall flavors – baby greens, roasted butternut squash, cranberries, toasted pecans with a maple vinaigrette. Then for a little hint of salty and savory, I top it with a bit of crumbled bacon and a sprinkle of feta cheese. It’s a perfect salad to balance out the richness of the other dishes on the Thanksgiving table.
And I totally love any holiday dish that can be prepped in advance, and this is definitely one of those dishes. I like to make the vinaigrette, toast the pecans, cook the bacon and roast that butternut squash the day before. Then all there is to do is assemble everything just before serving.
For the Salad
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups mixed greens (leaf lettuce, baby spinach, and/or baby kale)
- 8 ounces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the Vinaigrette
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet, drizzle the butternut squash with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss it all together and roast for 35-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and a little bit caramelized. Give the squash a flip halfway through the cooking time, to give it a chance to brown on all sides. Allow to cool.
- Lay the greens out on a big platter, and top with the roasted squash. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, cranberries, feta cheese, and pecans over the top. Gently toss everything together.
- In a mason jar or measuring cup, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Dress the salad with the vinaigrette, or serve at the table alongside the salad
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