Roasted beets and butternut squash are served over spicy arugula and topped with crunchy pepitas, creamy goat cheese, fresh herbs, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. This beautiful salad is a simple gluten-free recipe packed with nutrition and flavor. Enjoy it for lunch, dinner, or as a colorful side dish for your fall and winter holiday meals.
This colorful, simple, and super nutrition-packed salad goes out to all the people looking for tasty ways to eat more veggies, especially roasted vegetables. And to those that just like eating beautiful salads.
I feel like salads are always the afterthought to a meal. In fact, at a recent holiday gathering with my family (which was smaller than normal cuz hello 2020) the poor salad that was served was completely forgotten and overshadowed by all of the other dishes served. And it was forgotten again the next day when all the leftovers came out for a second round of noshing.
But this salad catches the eye. The colors grab our attention and the roasted veggies on top layered with toasted pepitas and crumbles of creamy goat cheese shout flavor and tasty fall/winter vibes.
🌟 Why you'll love this recipe
This salad is so easy to love because:
- It's simple. There's a little roasting in the oven, a little slicing, and then some simple salad arranging.
- It's vegetarian and can easily be made vegan by swapping out the goat cheese for your favorite soft and creamy vegan 'goat' cheese. This salad will check off most of the boxes for any type of food intolerance that joins your table.
- It can be prepped ahead. Roast the veggies ahead of time so they are ready to go when you want to quickly toss together the salad. This makes your simple salad even more simple.
- It's beautiful. We eat with our eyes first. This colorful salad is hard to ignore with its bright, vibrant colors. It may also catch the attention of your co-workers at lunchtime so be ready to share the recipe.
- It's tasty. The #1 requirement for a recipe to make it onto Pass Me Some Tasty. Roasted winter veggies, spicy arugula, crunchy pepitas, tangy goat cheese, and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette definitely pass the tasty test.
🛒 Ingredients & suggestions
- Butternut squash - If you can't find butternut squash swap it out for any of these interchangeable winter squashes: acorn, kabocha, Hubbard, or sugar pumpkin.
- Beets - I use red beets in this recipe simply because I love their beautiful contrast next to the bright orange roasted butternut squash but golden beets or even stripey-fleshed Chioggia beets would be just as great.
- Pepitas - Also known as pumpkin seeds. Don't have them on hand? Swap them out for chopped walnuts, toasted sliced almonds, or roasted pistachios.
- Red Wine Vinegar - Sherry vinegar can be used as well.
- Fresh Herbs - I love adding a little something extra to my salads by using fresh herbs. In this salad, I use fresh chives and Italian parsley but feel free to play with the flavors by trying other herbs like tarragon, mint, or basil.
- Goat Cheese - A high-quality, soft, and creamy goat cheese is what we are going for. Not sure which one to use? Just ask your friendly grocery store cheesemonger for a suggestion. Feta cheese or a soft vegan cheese are also great options.
- Arugula - Swap out this spicy green for baby spinach or mixed greens.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the end of this post.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
Step 1: Wrap washed beets in aluminum foil.
Step 2: Peel the butternut squash and slice off each end.
Step 3: Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Cut each half again lengthwise and then slice to about ½" thickness.
Step 4: Place the sliced butternut squash on a parchment-lined baking pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Step 5: Spread the butternut squash out evenly on the baking sheet and place it, along with the aluminum wrapped beets, into the oven to roast.
Step 6: Add the balsamic vinaigrette ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and give it a good shake. If you have any kids running around nearby, they love doing this part.
Step 7: Once the beets have cooled enough to be able to handle, peel their skins. Or you can also use a paper towel to rub off the skins.
Step 8: Slice the beets.
Step 9: Arrange the salad by alternating the beets and butternut squash (this makes it super pretty) on top of a bed of arugula. Generously sprinkle pepitas, goat cheese, and fresh chopped herbs over top. Finish it off with a yummy drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
Step 10: Who's ready to eat?!
👩🍳 Recipe tips!
- Peeling beets and butternut squash - Let's be honest. If ever there were two veggies that are a major pain to peel, it would be beets and butternut squash. Agree? So to make this a little bit easier on our veggie-peeling sanity know that: 1.) Roasted beets are definitely easier to peel after they have been roasted and 2.) A really good veggie peeler makes a BIG difference. I have been really happy with my super old veggie peeler (which I can't find online anymore to link to for you) but if I were to upgrade I would go either with this Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler or this OXO Good Grips Y Peeler.
- Protect your cutting boards and countertops. Beets are great at staining the surfaces they are cut on so be sure to use a plastic cutting board, which can easily be washed and bleached, versus a wooden cutting board. And definitely don't cut beets on light-colored or marble surfaces (unless you like the color pink). If you don't have a plastic cutting board protect your cutting surface with a couple of sheets of parchment paper. Also, if you'd like your hands to remain stain-free, throw on some cheap latex gloves before handling or slicing your beets.
- Eat it warm or cold. I personally enjoy this salad both ways. However, if you have extra roasted beets and butternut squash hanging out in your fridge and you'd like to make this salad with the veggies warmed, just lay them out on a baking sheet and give them a quick re-roast in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 12 to 15 minutes.
- It doesn't matter how you slice (or dice) the beets and squash. If you'd like smaller bite-sized veggies on your salad, dice the beets and squash into cubes. The aesthetic of the salad is up to you!
💭 Frequently asked questions
Nope! Save yourself some time and leave the skin on prior to roasting beets. You can also leave the skin on after they have been roasted if you like. It's okay to eat them! If you do choose to peel your beets, once the beets are cool enough to handle, they can be peeled with a vegetable peeler (see Recipe Tips above) or you can also use a paper towel to rub off the skins.
Yes, you can! Roasted beets and butternut squash keep well in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days so save time on meal prep by roasting your beets and butternut squash in advance or even roast extra and use them later for more salads during the week. Store the roasted veggies in an airtight container.
Easy, tasty, and beautiful is how we roll.
Aren't colorful winter salads the best? My taste buds say yes. ♡
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