This simple ThanksgivingSalad comes loaded with roasted butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, candied almonds, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The salad is dressed with an easy three-ingredient balsamic dressing.
BUTTERNUTSQUASH: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the butternut squash and chop into small bite-sized pieces. Place on a large sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste; I add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Arrange the squash in an even layer on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes longer or until tender, but not mushy. Set aside and allow to cool for a bit before adding to salad.
DRESSING: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Taste and adjust to personal preference (add more honey if you like sweeter, season with additional salt as desired).
ASSEMBLE: Add spinach to a large bowl, removing any large stems and ripping large pieces if needed. Drizzle half of the dressing over the spinach and gently toss. Add roasted (and cooled to room temperature) squash, almonds, cranberries, and feta cheese. Very gently toss the salad ingredients.
SERVE: Serve salad onto plates and drizzle the last bit of dressing onto individual servings. Enjoy soon after being prepared, since this salad doesn't sit well with the dressing and ingredients. If you want to save leftovers, only dress and combine the ingredients that will be eaten the same day.
Note 1: If you prefer to peel and chop your own butternut squash, you'll need 1 small-to-medium-sized butternut squash, which will yield about 4 heaping cups of cut squash. Note 2: I buy the "salad-ready" honey-roasted almonds for this salad. To candy your own almonds, combine 1 cup sliced almonds with 1/3 cup white sugar a large skillet. Set the heat to medium-high and stir constantly. The sugar will begin to melt and become a sticky liquid and then cling to the almonds. This takes about 3-4 minutes -- watch carefully and stir constantly to avoid burning the nuts. Spread the candied almonds on a sheet of parchment paper and let harden. Break apart and use in this salad.