I owe you an apology. I have made this salad multiple times over the last two years and it is just now making it onto the site. Each time I made it was either for a Christmas or Thanksgiving celebration and as you might imagine, with a house full of people waiting to eat and working on getting everything on the table, snapping photos got pushed to the back burner. So this year I made it a point to throw this together early in the season so that I could share it with you – I couldn’t let another holiday season go by without giving you a chance to get it on your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! This is pretty much the ultimate holiday salad – mixed greens tossed with roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, walnuts and Parmesan cheese, and then dressed with a warm apple cider vinaigrette. It has been a huge hit each time I make it and is one of my favorite holiday dishes.
I fell in love with roasted butternut squash a couple of years ago; you all know I’m not a big vegetable fan and never cared much for spaghetti squash, so I steered clear of all other squash as a result. Then one day I was at someone else’s house and mistook roasted butternut squash for roasted sweet potatoes (which I do like), and I tried it. And loved it. An earthy roasted flavor and a mix of salty, sweet, and whatever seasonings you choose to throw in. So a couple of months later when helping my mom plan a Christmas menu I saw this salad and had to try it. The rest, as they say, is history. It’s been on the menu for every holiday since!
We always serve this as a side salad for holiday meals, but this would also make a lovely entree salad if you are having company over for a casual lunch during the fall or winter. It’s hearty and amazingly flavorful. A big bowl of this with some crusty bread and maybe a glass of wine? Perfect lunch.
Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to evenly coat the butternut squash. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once, until the squash is tender. Add the cranberries to the pan during the last 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, the vinegar and the shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.