This delicious recipe for fall salad has it all! Nutritious greens, roasted butternut squash, tart cranberries, crunchy pecans, creamy crumbled goat cheese and a homemade, sweet cinnamon vinaigrette dressing to die for!
It’s easy to make, healthy and delicious. If you need a great side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, I guarantee this salad will be a hit.
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A quick rundown – making autumn harvest salad & sweet cinnamon vinaigrette:
Keep scrolling for the full recipe! We’ll start here with a quick overview:
- Time to heat up the oven! Preheat to 400°F.
- Peel & cube your butternut squash. Lightly drizzle cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & freshly ground pepper. Bake for 40 minutes.
- While squash is baking, chop kale and place it in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Use your hands to massage oil into the leaves.
- Chop spinach and add it to the mixing bowl along with the kale. Add cranberries, goat cheese and chopped pecans.
- Remove squash from the oven and prepare dressing while it cools.
- Once cool, add roasted butternut squash to the mixing bowl. Toss all ingredients together. Plate and enjoy!
- Butternut squash is much easier to work with if you have a good vegetable peeler. For the longest time I used an old, dull peeler and dreaded working with thick skinned squash. Finally, I broke down and bought a new, heavy duty vegetable peeler (it was super affordable so I’m not sure why I waited so long)! It’s the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. Highly recommend! You can also look for pre-cubed squash at the grocery store (look in the produce section).
- Feel free to get creative with this recipe, it’s very flexible. Try a different type of winter squash or substitute walnuts for pecans. Did you find a fun, fall flavored goat cheese at the grocery store, give it a go! Love the cinnamon flavor in the vinaigrette? Add a little more! It’s easy to have fun with this recipe and mix things up.
- This salad goes great with Tailgate Crockpot Chili and a big piece of buttered bread!
Autumn Harvest Salad & Sweet Cinnamon Vinaigrette
Autumn Harvest Salad
- 1 large butternut squash *peeled & cubed *see note below
- 1 large bunch of kale *chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups spinach *chopped
- Salt *to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper *to taste
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped pecans *roasted & salted *see note below
- 1 4 oz goat cheese log *crumbled
Sweet Cinnamon Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil *see note below
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar *dark or light *packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Recipe notes:Butternut squash: Pre-cubed squash is usually available at the grocery store (especially when it’s in season)! If you don’t feel like dicing up a whole squash, or you’re trying to save a little time, look for a package in the produce section. Pecans: at the store, look for pecans that are already roasted/salted. Packaging should specify! Buy whole nuts and chop them up or look for pecan “pieces.” These work nicely and save a little time since you won’t need to cut them up by hand. Grapeseed oil: this is a neutral oil that doesn’t have a peppery flavor, like olive oil. Additional olive oil can be used as a substitute, but it will change the flavor a bit. Grapeseed oil is excellent for making homemade dressings, I definitely recommend adding a bottle to your pantry! It should be in the same area as the olive oil at your local grocery store.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Peel and cube your butternut squash. Drizzle with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss the cubes in the salt, pepper and oil. Spread them out on a large baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.
- While squash bakes, chop up your kale. Place it in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Massage the olive oil into the kale leaves for 2-3 minutes. By the time you finish massaging the kale, it will have decreased significantly in size, this is normal.
- Chop spinach leaves up and add them to the mixing bowl along with the kale. Add cranberries, chopped pecans and crumbled goat cheese.
- Once squash is done, take it out and allow it to cool.
- While squash cools, prepare your dressing. Simply combine all ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and whisk them together.
- Add roasted butternut squash cubes to the bowl and toss all ingredients together with two forks. This salad is delicious without any dressing at all, so I normally leave dressing to the side so that diners can add however much they prefer. Enjoy!
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