This roasted butternut squash salad gets a spicy kick from harissa. It's a vegan salad, and because you roast all the seeds and don't peel the squash, almost nothing is wasted!
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When fall comes around, I am always looking for new things to do with butternut squash. We grow it, I love it, I wanna know all the ways to cook it!
Roast it, put it in soups, make lasagna - possibilities are endless. But butternut squash salad...hey, that's new and interesting!
Some of my favorite recipes for butternut squash - get this - are the ones that don't require you to peel the squash! That's right, we are going to roast the squash, peel and all! Seeds too! Easy and virtually no waste!
Another bonus: this salad is vegan without even trying to be. It just is. So make it all fall and winter long - because it's delicious and easy - but especially when you have vegan guests coming.
This butternut squash salad is something that's a little unexpected, and it's a great option for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's spicy, sweet, creamy and crunchy, and only has five ingredients!
- Butternut squash: Select a butternut squash that is heavy for its size with no large blemishes or soft spots. The shapes can vary with the rounded part on the bottom being larger on some than others, this makes no difference in terms of flavor and texture.
- Avocados: You'll need ripe avocados, that just give slightly when squeezed.
- Salad greens: You can use any mix of baby greens.
- Harissa: This spicy North African chile paste has a fruity, smoky flavor. You can find it online or at Trader Joe's.
- Cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper: This is all you need to make a simple vinaigrette.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
Cut up the butternut squash: The key to cutting up a butternut squash is using a large, high-quality chef's knife like mine from Global. Cut on a cutting board with rubber grips so it won't slide.
Begin by using the thicker part of the blade nearest your hand.
First, cut off the top stem, and the very bottom of the squash.
Instead of trying to slice all the way through the squash, slice into it a little ways, lift the blade out, then carefully turn it and slice into it again, following along the initial cut you made. Work your way around until you can easily slice all the way through it.
Then cut the squash in two, just above the spot where the rounded bottom meets the cylindrical top.
Now cut the rounded bottom part in half.
Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds.
Remove the seeds from the pulp with your fingers.
Now cut the cylindrical top half lengthwise, cut into slices, then into wedges. Do the same with the rounded part of the bottom of the squash until you have somewhat equal size wedges/cubes.
In a large bowl, mix the harissa, olive oil and salt. Save a dollop of the mixture and set aside for the squash seeds.
Add the butternut squash to the harissa mixture and toss to coat. One note about harissa: different brands vary wildly in level of spiciness. Taste yours and adjust seasoning accordingly if necessary. You can find harissa online, in specialty markets and at Whole Foods.
Divide the squash between two sheet pans and spread out. Place some skin side down, and some flesh side down. Place in the oven.
Combine the remaining harissa mixture and the squash seeds.
In a large bowl, combine the cider vinegar and oil, add a pinch of salt and whisk together.
After 20 minutes, remove the sheet pans from the oven, and flip the squash pieces over. Divide the seeds and sprinkle them onto each pan. Return the pans to the oven, rotating them so that the one that had been on the top rack is now on the bottom rack.
Continue to roast the squash for another 20 minutes or until it is nicely browned and cooked through. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, slice the avocado.
Then add the greens to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. I usually use my hands for this, it's easier on the lettuce and you know for sure that you've got everything incorporated.
Place the dressed salad greens on a plate, top with butternut squash, avocado slices, and the toasted seeds. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
FAQs and Tips
- Can I make butternut squash salad ahead of time? You can roast the squash and seeds one day ahead. Refrigerate the squash and store the seeds in an airtight container. Allow the squash to come to room temperature before serving.
- Can you eat the peel of butternut squash? Yes, you can! The key is cooking it at a high heat so it gets soft and roasted. Younger squash earlier in the season have a more tender skin.
- Different brands of harissa can vary wildly in their level of spice. So taste yours and assess the spiciness before you add the full amount to the recipe.
More butternut squash recipes
- Change up the game and blow their minds with this Butternut Squash Lasagna where the squash stands in for tomato sauce. Vegetarian and super tasty!
- Fo another vegan side dish that doesn't require peeling the squash, try Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Tahini, and Za'atar.
Harissa Roasted Butternut Squash with Avocado and Toasted Squash Seeds
- 1 butternut squash about 2 pounds
- 2 avocados
- 6 oz salad greens
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoon harissa
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Place racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.
- Leaving the peel intact, cut the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes and wedges. Remove the seeds from the pulp and set aside in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, mix together the harissa, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Add ½ teaspoon of this mixture to the bowl with the seeds and toss to coat. Add the butternut squash to the bowl with the remaining harissa mixture and toss to coat.
- Divide the squash between two sheet pans, some skin side down and some flesh side down and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the squash and flip the pieces over, and sprinkle the squash seeds onto the pans. Place the pan that had been on the bottom rack onto the top rack and vice versa. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until squash is tender and cooked through.
- Just before serving, whisk together the remaining olive oil and the cider vinegar in a large bowl. Add the salad greens and toss to coat. Slice the avocado.
- To serve, place the dressed salad greens on a platter, top with squash, avocado slices, and toasted squash seeds. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cutting a butternut squash doesn't have to be a daunting task. Use a large, sharp, high-quality knife, I love my Global stainless steel knife. I use it every day. Cut on a cutting board with rubber grips like this one so it won't slip. Make smaller cuts into the flesh, working your way around the squash to cut it in half, instead of trying to force the knife all the way through.
- A note about Harissa: different brands can vary wildly in their level of spiciness. Be sure to taste yours and assess the level of spice - you can add more or less to suit your preference. You can find harissa online, in specialty markets, and at Whole Foods.
- You can roast the squash one day ahead and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving.