This wonderful seasonal salad is crisp, colorful, nutty, and fresh. I truly love creating new and interesting salads that “feed” off of the current season. The butternut squash here gives a fullness and gravity, while the pears keep it refreshing. The craisins and candied pecans further add dimension, sweetness, and warmth, while the thin slivers of red onion balance that out with their savory taste. What I really love is the dressing I made up. I like using a coordinating juice as a base, so I used pear juice here. The result was a lovely pear vinaigrette. It’s a cute, creative way to keep consistency. For instance, a classic lemony vinaigrette wouldn’t make sense, in that it would compete with and overpower the sweet elements. If you have a well stocked kitchen, you probably even have all of this on hand. If not, try to improvise with whatever fresh ingredients you do have (Unless you only have condiments. Do not make a ketchup salad. Go shopping🥗).
Six cups of spring mix lettuce. Romaine, butter, or red leaf would work too.
A cup of candied pecans.
Two cups of diced butternut squash.
A generous handful of craisins, two firm but sweet pears diced, any kind that isn’t mushy on the inside; the pears are needed for a fresh crispness.
A small red onion sliced into thin slivers.
The only thing needed to be done in advance is that the butternut squash needs to be roasted in the oven on 400 until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Cool the squash at least partially before adding it in. It’s ok if it’s a bit warm. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. I like a lot of mixing room so I always do it in one of those giant aluminum tins.
A quarter cup of lemon juice
A quarter cup of olive oil
Half a cup of pear juice
Half tsp salt, quarter tsp pepper
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
Whisk all very well. Add the dressing to the salad starting with a third cup. You may not need more. The goal is a lightly dressed salad. No dousing or drowning. Add more as needed, saving rest for future. You could even use the extra as a marinade for chicken or fish. This is a fantastic dinner when it follows a soup.