Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

by Maris Callahan on October 9, 2011

Today I spent approximately eight hours in the gym. Thankfully for everyone, I wasn’t actually working out for the full eight hours, but was getting certified to teach TurboKick, a cardio kickboxing format that my gym, along with several others in Chicago, offers. I’d never thought about teaching group fitness before, but I love this class so much (I go at noon on Sundays, that’s how much) that when Susanna announced on Facebook that she was hosting an instructor training workshop in October, I immediately decided to sign up.

Then I realized that the training fell on the same weekend as FoodBlogForum in Nashville, where I’d been invited to speak on a public relations panel. So I didn’t sign up. Then, I lost a major client, picked up some new projects and…well, it seemed like the worst possible time to spend almost a thousand dollars on a trip that was, at the end of the day, primarily for pleasure. So I very begrudgingly had to cancel my trip to Nashville and soon after I did, realized that there was a silver lining because now I could become TurboKick certified.

We’re going to talk about how this relates to butternut squash salad in just a few minutes.

Since August, my life has been total chaos and I managed to slip off the healthy-eating-working-out-regularly band wagon that I’d been on for the majority of the spring and summer. Even though I was eating more chips and guacamole than I want to admit and eating ice cream with a certain regularity, kickboxing was the one class, the one workout that could compel me to the gym. It’s fast-paced, high energy and I almost always feel better after I’ve done it (unless, you know…I take three weeks off. Then that first day back is Not. Fun).

Really though, think about it. Have you ever left the gym and thought, “I wish I hadn’t done that?” No. You feel glad that you accomplished something that is healthy for you and maybe even let some feel-good endorphins flow.  Now take that feeling and multiply it by thirty and that’s approximately how I felt after leaving instructor training today.

I have no idea if I’ll actually teach. I would like to, that is, if I ever learn how to count in beats of 32 and cue without mixing up my left from my right. But even if I never teach one class, I left today’s workshop feeling good about myself and motivated to be better, to be better to my body and to be better to myself.

Sometimes, that means eating salads.

Not lame-o salads, of course. Hearty fall-inspired salads, like this salad I made for a cooking demonstration at the Junior League of Chicago last week (more about that later). Packed with plump dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash and peppery arugula, this salad is a great one to make to eat as a dinner side dish and pack leftovers for your lunch the next day.

Or not. No one will know if you don’t have leftovers. It is, of course, a salad, right?

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 15 minutes/Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

What You Need:

For the salad:
1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon high-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon high-quality, pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 ounces baby arugula
½ cup walnuts halves, toasted
¾ cup feta cheese

For the dressing:
¾ cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup olive or vegetable oil

How-To:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add one tablespoon olive oil, maple syrup, one teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss (use your hands for best results). Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.

While the squash is roasting, make the dressing: combine apple cider, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly pour 1/2 cup olive oil, whisking continuously as dressing thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts and feta. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well (if you like light dressing, you may have some left over). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Martyna@WholesomeCook October 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm

All of my favourite things in a salad! And if it’s worth anything, you should teach the class! You’ll meet new people and it will be good for you, to take some time off and give it back to yourself! Good luck!

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Betty @ scrambled hen fruit October 10, 2011 at 12:10 am

I love that this salad is packed with quintessential fall flavors as well as healthy food. I try to have salads for lunch each day- this one would be a great choice! :)

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Nami | Just One Cookbook October 10, 2011 at 12:36 am

Very nice. I love the color of butternut squash on the green salad and the apple cider vinaigrette sounds so good on this particular salad. I think you will be a great teacher. I would go to your class if I’m in your area! Sounds fun….although I’m totally out of shape. haha.

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Ruth October 10, 2011 at 2:32 am

This is the perfect fall salad! I love the addition of apple cider vinegar to the dressing – so right for this time of year! Now I know what my lunch should be….

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In Katrina's Kitchen October 10, 2011 at 4:06 am

I love the colors going on in this salad. Sorry you couldn’t make it to fbf. But glad there was a silver lining. :)

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Simply Life October 10, 2011 at 6:24 am

wow, that’s great you took that class! delicious salad!

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Sam October 10, 2011 at 6:27 am

This looks so good! Wishing I had thought of something similar when I had both butternut squash and arugula in my fridge the other day. But there will be more butternut squash and I’m definitely making this next time!

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Liz October 10, 2011 at 6:34 am

Perfect autumn salad…what a great combination of flavors. Sorry you missed the food blog forum :(

PS…kick boxing sounds like so much fun. Power yoga is my go-to exercise, but I should branch out~

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bellini October 10, 2011 at 6:39 am

This is a seasonal salad that is so worth the time and effort!!!

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T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types October 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

This sounds delicious – the colors say AUTUMN! I’m just getting back into the butternut squash season, so I will put this salad on my list.

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Kitchen Belleicious October 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

Oh la la! I love the idea of the apple cider dressing. I love using apple cider in any and everything I can when it gets to be this time of year but actually i have never tried it as a dressing before. It sounds amazing and so does the squash. I am a huge fan of roasting my veggies because I think it brings out the best flavor in them!

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Heather @girlichef October 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

Oh, TurboKick sounds like a blast! Good for you :) And this salad reminds me of my absolute favorite fall salad of all time…I usually start making it right around now, so thank you for the reminder. Now, if only I could find a TurboKick class around here….

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Erica October 10, 2011 at 7:50 am

I used to teach Turbo! It is a lot of fun :) Glad you got to go and take the training- whoop whoop! Now, this salad…amaze. Some of my favorite flavors. I must make it!

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Lisa @ Tarte du Jour October 10, 2011 at 7:54 am

What a lovely salad… colorful, healthy and delicious! That is what I call good food! Turbokick sounds interesting… good for you!

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Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) October 10, 2011 at 8:34 am

Beautiful way to use butternut squash, which is abundant right now at the farmers market.

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Greg October 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

Congrats on getting certified. Sounds like everything is working out, ups and downs wise. This is such the perfect salad for fall. I think my wife would love it to take for lunch.

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Three-Cookies October 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

I like apple cider vinegar in dressing. Congrats on picking up new client(s)

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Deborah October 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

This salad sounds amazingly delicious!!

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lisa {smart food and fit} October 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

congrats on your turbokick certification! :) I made a grilled pumpkin salad the other day for lunch! Can’t wait to try your version!

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Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray October 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

This looks SO good! Printing, stumbling, pinning…what else can I do? EATING for sure! Yum!

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Sarah October 10, 2011 at 10:00 am

Cinnamon in the dressing makes me really want to try this. I love butternut squash in my salads, always feels less salady.

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Kelly October 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

That looks yummy. I was actually making something similar with pumpkin this week but ack the pumpkin got over roasted, I overcooked the quinoa, and then I burnt the bacon I was intending to put in it. Such an off night. But now you’ve convinced me I should definitely give it another go because apple vinaigrettes + squash and cheese = amazing.

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Rachel October 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

This is certainly no lame-o salad! I might eat this every day if you let me.
You did the right thing by learning to teach for favorite fitness class. Only good can come of that!

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amy @ fearless homemaker October 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

the salad looks delicious. we missed you in nashville this past weekend but hopefully we’ll see you at the next food blog forum. it was an absolutely awesome time!

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Roz@weightingfor50 October 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Hi Maris. Congratulations on your certification!!!! Great looking salad too! Hope the chaos of your life settles down soon. I know good things are ahead for you!!!! Happy Monday.

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Tasha October 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Very good point made about never thinking you wish you hadn’t done that after a worout. Doing the workshop sounds like a wonderful experience, regardless of if you ever persue teaching. And I love this salad. Immensely.

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bakerbynature October 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

And just as I was thinking to skip the gym today…

I will get myself there now, because your right: I never regret going, and I always feel better after a work out.

This salad looks lovely, and I doubt there would be any left overs… but I imagine it would be tasty the next day.

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alyssa - fashion fitness foodie October 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’ve never put squash on a salad… I love roasting butternut squash though!!

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claire @ the realistic nutritionist October 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Turbokick sounds FUN!!!! I need to work out for about 8 hours straight. Love this salad!

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Caroline October 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Everything works out for the best, I really do believe that. Congrats on getting certified! My friend is certified in turbokick as well and absolutely loves it. The apple cider vinaigrette sounds delicious. xx

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juniakk @ mis pensamientos October 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

roasted butternut squash in salad is my kind of food. love this! :D

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Geni October 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I adore this salad Maris and am SOOOOOO impressed you are now certified at teaching Turbokicks. That’s amazing! Have a great week!

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EA-The Spicy RD October 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Definitely NOT a lame-o salad! This looks fabulous Maris! Your cardio kickboxing instructor workshop sounds fun too. Not that I’ve ever tried kickboxing in my life, mind you :-)

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Candace October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

What a wonderful salad! I love any reason to eat Butternut Squash and this looks fantastic. Apple Cider Vinaigrette must be the perfect compliment to it. Congratulations on getting certified! I know that feels good!

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Ellisha October 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Yum! And I am with you on the kickboxing thing! Every Friday morning I take a class with some of my favorite girlfriends, and it is the best workout (and sometimes the only workout) of my week!

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The Teacher Cooks October 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm

This is inspiring and beutiful! I love the photos. I am sure that things are going to work out for you! Think positive!

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Elle October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Nice going on getting certified. That must have been lots of fun.

I love this salad. I have a kabocha ?? squash and it tarste very similar to bn so will use that…thanks so much!

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natalie (the sweets life) October 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

I absolutely LOVE turbokick. I don’t currently belong to a gym but will prob join once it gets a bit colder…and then I intend to start going to turbokick again. Too bad you can’t be my instructor :)

Also, love bnut squash on salads…I made a few last year and this looks like one I need to try this fall!

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Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray October 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

Ah, yum! I’m so excited it’s butternut squash season–and this looks delightful.

Congrats on your certification, too! That sounds like an awesome, endorphin-pumping outlet. :)

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Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking October 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

Now this is my kind of salad! Love the fall flavors you incorporated into this, Maris. Very yummy and creative. Thank you for sharing! I’m pocketing this to try soon.

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Rachel @ The Avid Appetite October 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

this looks perfectly Fall! I absolutely love it! Bookmarking to possibly make for Thanksgiving…

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Susan October 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm

That’s awesome, Maris! Congratulations on your certification. I adore squash and this salad looks perfectly inviting.

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Mom October 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm

As I always am, I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments.

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Emma October 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm

When I was in college I showed up once for a kickboxing class during the week of free rec classes offered at the start of the semester. Luckily I went with a friend so I didn’t look like a complete moron (just 1/2 a moron); but somehow, everybody knew all the frickin’ moves already! What’s up Minneapolis, it was the first week – what’s up!!

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Elaine October 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I have not heard of TurboKick before (you can tell I am not a gym girl) :) . It sounds like a lot of fun and a great workout. Your salad looks like the perfect fall salad that is colorful and hearty with the butternut squash. I have been eating a lot of butternut squash lately. Just can’t seem to get enough, so I will be definitely trying your recipe.

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bodelou October 12, 2011 at 12:06 am

i always look forward to fall so i can overdo it on the butternut squash. okay lets be real, you cant overdo it on butternut squash. surprisingly, i hadn’t thought of it in a salad. looks tasty! perhaps this will be on my menu for next week. last week it was soup.

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Courtney October 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

Good for you, Maris – and I can totally related to the inability to count beats and know your left from right. It’s why i usually do not go to classes. Really. Not because I’m lazy. Anyways, the salad looks fabulous – and I love how fall inspired it is.

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Divya October 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

This looks like a great way to use squash. I’m always clueless about autumn salads, but this sounds like a really good way to get my veggies.

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Baking Serendipity October 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I love group exercise classes. They are my best motivation to actually get to the gym and helped me meet so many new friends when I first moved to Phoenix. I’m not sure I have the coordination to be an instructor, but I’m super impressed that you’re certified! Also, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been slacking a little lately too. This salad would be an awesome way to kick start a jump back into my old routine. Thank you :)

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Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Yum! What a fiber-licious meal option! I can’t wait to give this a try.

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Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen October 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm

It’s that time of year again…squash! Love the idea of putting it on salad. Congrats on making steps towards a new adventure in teaching kickboxing! That would be soo much fun, think of all the lives you could help change and friends you could make :)

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Juliana October 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Maris, nice salad, love the idea of roasted butternut squash…and the apple cider…very Fall :-)
Hope you are having a great week!

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NancyC October 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

That looks so good and healthy!

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Melissa@IWasBornToCook October 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Love this – looks delicious! Good luck with the teaching!

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Sherilyn @ Wholepromise October 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Congrats on the certification – it sounds like an exciting class to take. I love pumpkin in salads. It add a touch of delicious sweetness.

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Blond Duck October 14, 2011 at 7:13 am

I’ve always wanted to take Turbo Kick! l love kickboxing!

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Bee October 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Looks delish, lady! So many great fall flavors in this :)

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Judy October 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

I love BN squash, though buttercup is my absolute fave. This salad looks fabulous!

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Bree October 17, 2011 at 9:56 am

Looks like a fabulous fall salad-yum!

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