We always have a salad at Thanksgiving, and not just any salad — a salad that earns its place on the Thanksgiving table! This vegetarian salad has so much going on: roasted butternut squash, pears, and goat cheese, pomegranate seeds. It’s substantial enough to satisfy the non-meat eaters as well as serving as a beautiful counterpoint to the turkey.
Fruit in salad always feels sophisticated and special. And clever, even though it’s not exactly inventing the wheel. Here, pears — because they also have a very holiday vibe — and pomegranate seeds…because ditto. You can buy pomegranate seeds, or arils, already picked from the fruit, which is a huge time and mess saver!
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And cheese! I am always happy to see cheese in a salad (though it’s, of course, optional and can be left out for a vegan salad). In this salad, we welcome lovely chunks of goat cheese. Add them at the end and toss lightly, as if you toss them too early and/or vigorously, they will blend into the salad and not stay in distinct little creamy bites.
Thanksgiving Salad: This green salad with roasted butternut squash, pears, and goat cheese has tons of color, flavor, and texture. And a definite fall/winter/holiday vibe!Tweet This
Butternut Squash in Salad
The butternut squash is cooked until quite tender and even browned in spots, which gives it that lovely caramelized flavor. It should cool to room temp before you combine it with the other ingredients, and then it has a nice little chew to it.
If you have leftover cooked butternut squash from a previous meal, this is a great way to use it up. Just skip the squash roasting instructions below and use what you have — obviously, make sure the seasonings on the squash feel compatible with the other flavors in the salad.
Ingredients for Thanksgiving Salad
- Butternut Squash – If you have leftover butternut squash from another simple recipe, feel free to use it here. Otherwise, roast it up simply, according to the recipe, and the earthy sweetness of the squash will play nicely with all of the other flavors, textures, and colors. You can also find peeled and steamed butternut squash, which is a shortcut you can feel free to take advantage of.
- Arugula – I like to use baby arugula, which has a nice peppery bite but isn’t too sharp. It pairs beautifully with the fruit in this salad and the dressing.
- Romaine – For the nice crunch and to make the salad lighter. You can sub in other lettuces like red leaf or green leaf lettuce, or if you want a softer salad, try butter or bibb lettuce.
- Pear – Sweet and juicy, love fruit in a holiday salad. Any pear will be fine, from Anjou to Bosc. It ideally should be just ripe but not too soft. Apples are another option — slice them thinly so they provide a delicate crunch.
- Goat cheese – A creamy and tangy addition – you could leave it out for a vegan salad, though! You could also trade in feta or another soft white crumbly cheese for the goat cheese. Or try one of the many flavored fresh goat cheeses for another twist. Laura Chenel and Vermont Creamy make some great options.
- Pomegranate seeds – for their sweet-tart burst of flavor and beautiful jewel-like red color
- Dressing – The pleasantly tart dressing also has a bit of sweetness, and it’s made with oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, shallots, and honey (plus salt and pepper, of course!)
Vegan Thanksgiving Salad
To make this salad vegan, skip the honey in the dressing and the cheese, and you have a vegan salad! You could use agave in place of the honey if you want a touch of sweetness.
What to Serve With Green Salad and Roasted Butternut Squash
- Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast
- Roast Eye of Round Beef with Thyme and Rosemary
- Orange Thyme Rack of Lamb Chops
- Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops
- Apple Cider Beef Stew
More Holiday Salad Recipes
- Arugula, Orange and Pomegranate Salad
- Red Salad with Citrus, Honey, and Thyme Vinaigrette
- Frisee, Radicchio, and Escarole Salad with Citrus Dressing
- Green Salad with Pears, Parmesan, and Pomegranate Seeds and Puff Pastry Croutons
- Green Bean Salad with Clementine Oranges and Feta
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For the Roasted Butternut Squash:
- 4 cups peeled and sliced butternut squash (pieces about 1 x 2 inches, ¼-inch thick)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
For the Vinaigrette:
For the Salad:
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 4 cups thinly sliced romaine
- 1 pear (halved, cored, and thinly sliced)
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- Roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, then spread the squash on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss until the squash is evenly coated. Bake for 35 minutes, until the squash is nicely browned in spots and very tender. Set aside to come to room temperature.
- Make the vinaigrette. In a small container, combine the shallots, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper. Shake to blend.
- Place the arugula and romaine in a large serving bowl. Add the pears and butternut squash, drizzle over the vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Add half the goat cheese and half the pomegranate seeds and gently toss again. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pomegranate seeds over the top and serve.
- If you have leftover cooked butternut squash from a previous meal, this is a great way to use it up. Just skip the squash roasting instructions and use what you have — obviously make sure the seasonings on the squash feel compatible with the other flavors in the salad.
- To make this salad vegan, skip the honey in the dressing and the cheese, and you have a vegan salad! You could use agave in place of the honey if you want a touch of sweetness.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.