Apple and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette


apple butternut salad

I won! Many of you asked for the recipe when I told you I was one of the winners for Harvest Moon restaurant’s recipe contest. Scott and I visited Harvest Moon Cafe at the end of last year on one of our road trip adventures in Rome, Georgia. They were having a recipe contest so after buying an assortment of apples at the Red Apple Barn in Ellijay, GA, I came home and came up with Apple and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad.

It was Christmastime in Rome (GA) and the trees in the middle of the historic downtown streets were twinkling with thousands of little lights. We hailed a Roman Chariot  which turned out to be a holiday-decorated 9 seater golf cart with a charming driver. I couldn’t stop talking about the clever name of our chosen mode of transportation. It gave me the idea to give our golf cart shuttles for the Gardendale Magnolia Festival (yes, shameless plug-you must come) “The Magnolia Express”. We are hanging magnolia wreaths in the back of the golf carts.


The Roman Chariot dropped us off at the recommended Harvest Moon Cafe. Sometimes you can tell by the vibe in the restaurant and the decorations on the walls you are going to like the food and this was certainly the case. The card on the table said they were having a recipe contest and the winner’s recipe would be on the Spring menu-so I entered and won!

I wasn’t able to travel back to GA for the tasting but they sent me this flyer. To see the Spring menu on their website click here. I also screenshotted (is that a word?) it here because they will change their menu at some point.

kathleen phillips winning apple salad recipe on Spring Harvest Moon Cafe Menu

So that’s how this yummy salad came about. Enough reminiscing and on to the recipe! Wait. Just one more picture of Ellijay, GA because I soooo want to go back during the Apple Festival.

home of apple festival sign

This recipe is not one of my typical shortcut recipes but several of the components can be purchased and not made from scratch to shorten the recipe. Candied pecans and almonds are sold next to the croutons. Ken’s Dressing now sells an Apple Cider Vinaigrette and butternut squash can be purchased already cubed. Those tips ought to save you a lot of time. Here we go….

candied pecans in a copper skillet

First, make the candied pecans. At first, you will think the granulated sugar will NEVER melt. Be patient. It will.

butternut squash on marble with two apples

Next, cube the butternut squash. My best tip for cutting butternut squash is to nuke it in the microwave 1 minute. It magically softens the squash so you can cut it fairly easily with a large chef knife. I use the OXO Y peeler to remove the tough peel. The shape allows you to pull down with more force than the regular vegetable peeler. Trust me. It makes a difference.

cubed butternut squash on a cookie sheet

High heat is a must when you are roasting vegetables. Don’t be tempted to stir often. In the recipe, I tell you to bake 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. If you don’t see brown, don’t turn them! The browned edges not only look good in the salad, the caramelized natural sugar tastes amazing!

Apple and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Arrange all the “particulates” as we call them in the food styling world on top of the mixed greens. You really can’t go wrong with any apple so pick your favorite! My recipe calls for Stayman-Winesap and Pink Lady because that’s what I bought at the Red Apple Barn on my trip and I wanted to use their local apples. Right now, blackberries sound yummy to substitute. Hmmm… I think I have some in the fridge!

Apple and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
21 mins
Total Time
1 hr 1 min
While on a road trip adventure to Rome and Ellijay, GA, I entered a recipe contest at the Harvest Moon Cafe restaurant. I won! The recipe includes Stayman-Winesap or Pink Lady apples because that's what I bought at the Red Apple Barn but feel free to use your favorite.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium-size Stayman-Winesap or Pink Lady apples thinly sliced or 1/2-inch cubes
  • 9 cups mixed spring greens that include arugula
  • 3 slices applewood bacon cooked and crumbled
  • Candied Pecans
  • 1 4-oz log goat cheese, crumbled
  • Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel, seed and cut butternut squash into 1/2-3/4-inch cubes; toss with olive oil and spread them out in a small roasting pan or baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned then turn them with tongs. Bake an additional 5 minutes or just until slightly soft. You don’t want them mushy but certainly not crunchy. Remove from pan and let cool.
  3. Place spring greens on six salad plates; sprinkle with butternut squash and arrange with apple. Top with bacon, Candied Pecans, and goat cheese. Drizzle each serving with about 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Yield: 6 servings.
  4. Candied Pecans
  5. 1 tablespoon salted butter
  6. 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  7. 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  8. Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat; add sugar and pecans. Stir often about 5 to 6 minutes or until pecans are toasted and sugar is melted.
  9. Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  10. 1/3 cup honey
  11. 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar OR 1/4 cup fresh apple cider + 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  12. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  13. 1/4 teaspoon pressed garlic or 1 teaspoon grated shallot
  14. 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil
  15. Whisk together first 4 ingredients, then slowly add oil, whisking quickly.

Author: gritsandgouda

Hi! I’m Kathleen. I’m a food stylist, recipe developer, cookbook author, and event planner loving life in a charming town called Gardendale, Alabama, with my husband and two teenage children. I love to cook and laugh…not necessarily in that order.

2 thoughts

  1. That sound really good, I love salads. You got the prize and good ideas. I liked the Magnolia Express, idea, maybe a picture?

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