Winter Squash Pomegranate Salad – This butternut squash salad is perfect for holidays, celebrations, and weeknights alike. You’ll love the apple cider vinaigrette! (Gluten-free, Vegan)
While we’re up to our ears in gluten-free holiday cookies over at Sweets & Thank You (our gluten-free baking sister site), today at One Lovely Life I’m all about something fresh and light for this season. And this winter squash and pomegranate salad is here to deliver!
With a gorgeous blend of colors and flavors, finished with a bright apple cider vinaigrette, this yummy winter salad is the perfect addition to your menu. It’s a fully-loaded salad that works well for holidays and special occasions (can’t you just picture it next to a turkey or roast?). I also love that it’s easy enough for a weeknight. Because WOW.
So what do you need to make this cozy holiday salad? It’s simple…
This Gorgeous Winter Salad At A Glance:
Jump to the section you need!
Here’s What You Need For This Butternut Squash Salad:
- Spring Mix or Spinach. I love using spring mix because of it’s pretty blend of colors. The purples and greens look so stunning next to the oranges and reds of the other ingredients! The softer green also work well with the other mix-ins.
- Brown Rice or Wild Rice. It might seem strange, but adding some hearty brown or wild rice to this butternut squash salad fills it out and gives it more substance. It also helps catch the vinaigrette which means more flavor in every bite!
- Butternut Squash. Simply roasted butternut squash adds a gorgeous richness to the salad, along with it’s bright, happy color.
- Pomegranate. Like little happy jewels, pomegranate arils (seeds) are gorgeous in this winter squash salad. (Learn how to seed a pomegranate here)
- Avocado. Some avocado adds creaminess, which is gorgeous next to the pomegranate and squash. The soft green also looks so festive and happy!
- Toasted Almonds. Every amazing salad needs some crunch, and in this squash pomegranate salad, toasted almonds fill that role. I LOVE the golden color, satisfying crunch, and rich flavor of toasted almonds!
- Apple Cider Dressing. To tie everything together, our sweet and tangy apple cider dressing helps finish off this salad. It strikes a gorgeous in the salad!
How To Make This Squash & Pomegranate Salad, Step By Step:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Start by roasting the squash. In a large bowl, combine diced squash, olive oil, 1/4 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. Pepper. Stir to coat the squash well and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and starting to get some color.
- While the squash is roasting, mix your salad dressing. In a jar or bowl, combine apple cider, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. Store in the refrigerator until it’s time to assemble the salad.
- (If you haven’t already, you an also toast almonds, seed your pomegranate, or cook your rice during this time)
- When the squash is done, assemble your salad. In a large bowl, combine salad greens, cooked rice, squash, pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, and avocado.
- Drizzle with half of the dressing and gently toss the salad with two forks or salad tongs to combine, adding more dressing if desired or needed.
Tips & Tutorials That Will Help You With This Salad:
How To Make Instant Pot Brown Rice. My favorite way to cook brown rice is in an Instant Pot. It’s pretty hands-off and the texture is perfect every time.
How To Toast Almonds. Toasting almonds deepens both their color and flavor. It only takes a few minutes and has HUGE flavor results. Highly recommend!
How To Keep Greens Fresh. It’s such a bummer when your greens wilt before you can get to them! These tips from Live Simply Mom are some of my favorites to prolong the life of your greens!
How To Seed A Pomegranate. You can absolutely buy pre-seeded pomegranate cups (like Pom-Pom cups by Pom Wonderful), but if you’re going to tackle your own (which I usually do), this is my favorite way to seed a pomegranate. It’s not as scary as it sounds!
Time-Saving Tip: Consider A Rice Shortcut!
To save time, consider buying frozen bags of cooked rice. They reheat in about 3 minutes and don’t have any added ingredients. It makes prepping this salad even easier!
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About This Holiday Squash Salad:
Can I Make This Squash Salad In Advance? Because some of the ingredients are a bit delicate (like spring mix and avocado!), I don’t recommend fully assembling the salad in advance, but you CAN do a lot of prep to make assembling this winter squash pomegranate salad a breeze:
- Toast The Almonds – almonds can easily be toasted in advance and stored 1-2 weeks. (They’ll keep longer in the freezer!)
- Seed Your Pomegranate – pomegranate seeds can easily been prepped a few days in advance.
- Mix Up The Dressing – Our apple cider salad dressing will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator, so feel free to make it a few days in advance!
- Roast The Squash – You can roast and cool the squash a day in advance. Bring it up to room temperature or re-warm it in the microwave or oven before adding it to the salad.
- Cook The Rice – Feel free to cook and cool your rice up to a a day in advance!
- Wash Or Prep The Greens – If you’re using bagged salad mix, this is done for you! Otherwise, you can wash and prep your greens a few days in advance.
Pro Tip: Roast The Whole Squash For Easy Leftovers! You will only need about 4 cups of raw diced butternut squash (which is about 1/2 of a regular butternut squash). I recommend cooking the whole squash at once (just add more olive oil, salt and pepper to the rest of the squash). You can use leftovers in this smoky quinoa salad another day or tuck them into our Sausage & Squash Frittata!
What Else Goes Well In This Salad? If you’d like to jazz up this butternut squash salad even more, feel free to add cooked crumbled bacon, some crumbled feta cheese, or finely diced red onion!