Recipe Review

I Tried Ina Garten’s Most “Delicious” Salad Recipe and It’s as Good as Promised

published Feb 2, 2024
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Ina Garten Salad
Credit: Lena Abraham

I love a good salad year-round. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a place with beautiful summer produce during every month, so delicacies like caprese salad and watermelon salad are absolutely not on the menu right now. Luckily there are plenty of cold weather-appropriate salads to choose from, featuring veggies that thrive this time of year. Perhaps none are more cozy and wintery-sounding than this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette from the one and only Ina Garten. Featuring golden cubes of roasted squash, it seemed like the perfect lunch to brighten up my exceptionally gray day.

Get the recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make Ina’s Butternut Squash Salad

To start, preheat your oven to 400°. Peel and dice one 1 1/2 pound butternut squash into 3/4-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Spread squash into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing once halfway through, until tender. This should take about 20 minutes; add 3 tablespoons of dried cranberries to the baking sheet 5 minutes before the squash is finished roasting.

Meanwhile, make the warm apple vinaigrette. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons minced shallot, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, and 3/4 cup cider or apple juice. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off heat, whisk in 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

To assemble, place 4 ounces washed arugula into a large bowl. Add the roasted squash and cranberries, 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, and 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan. Add dressing to taste and season with salt and pepper before serving.

My Honest Review of Ina’s Butternut Squash Salad

Made with a collection of simple ingredients, I was surprised just how satisfying this salad was. Every flavor was nicely balanced against the others: acid from the dressing, brightness from the arugula, sweetness from the squash and cranberries, richness from the toasted nuts, and plenty of savory notes from the grated Parm. 

The dressing alone was delicious, prominently featuring sweet apple flavor balanced with the tang of Dijon mustard. Spooning it over the dish warm makes for a distinctly wintery salad that feels welcoming on a blustery day.

The mix of textures brings you back for bite after bite, and it’s pretty! It’s the perfect side for a dinner party, but it also makes for a great light lunch or dinner, and could easily be bulked up with a simply prepared protein like grilled chicken.

Credit: Lena Abraham

3 Tips for Making Ina’s Butternut Squash Salad

  1. Prep it in advance. This salad is perfect for a dinner party because you can get a good head start on preparing it the day before. Roast the squash, toast the nuts, and make part of the dressing in advance. You can store the reduced cider/vinegar/shallot mixture in the fridge, then rewarm it and whisk in the mustard and oil before serving.
  2. Make small adjustments to accommodate dietary restrictions. Want a nut-free salad? Replace the walnuts with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or the butternut squash seeds you’ll find while prepping! (Just remember to toast them first.) For a vegan version of the salad, swap nutritional yeast in for the Parm.
  3. Read our guide to cutting butternut squash. Chopping this veggie can be daunting, but our method makes it so easy to cut uniform pieces.