Fresh, healthy and easy, this Keto Winter Salad with Roasted Squash is a plant-based low-carb delicious salad, that the entire family will love! This delightful combination of roasted butternut squash and red onion tossed in a lemon-tahini salad dressing is the perfect make-ahead dinner salad. Adding toasted chopped pecans and Kalamata olives, this low-carb dinner salad is the perfect crunchy, salty, sweet salad that everyone will rave about!
Winter Salad Season is Upon Us
When the weather changes, we typically reach for comfort foods like Brisket BBQ Chili, Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheese Soup or French Onion Beef Stew. But every so often, I still get a hankering for a salad that will bring me all the comfort I am craving without all the work (or calories!).
Plus, let's be honest...I think we are all craving some "healthier" recipes after all the holiday indulgences!
And that is where this recipe comes into play!
Even if you didn't indulge over the holidays, we all have those times where we are just craving something light, refreshing and healthy for a quick weeknight dinner.
Despite their often-tough skins, winter squash is one of the easiest and most rewarding things to prepare. For this recipe, I took advantage of the sweetness from butternut squash to give this squash salad heartiness and depth, and to provide contrast to the sharp, tahini-lemon dressing.
Keys to the Best Keto Winter Salad
The key to any great salad is mixing up both flavours and textures.
When every bite feels uniform, salads can get pretty boring.
That is definitely not the case for this salad!
Roasted butternut squash adds a satisfying heft and sweetness to the salad while mixing a variety of different types of lettuce and adding a sprinkling of roasted nuts keep things crunchy. Toss in some juicy pomegranate seeds or diced cranberries and mint and you’ll wonder why it’s sometimes hard to motivate yourself to eat a salad at all.
Winter Roasted Squash Salad
Like my other favourite holiday salads Keto Maple Bacon Broccoli Salad and the Healthy Crunchy Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad - Keto and Vegan, the bright, fresh flavours and beautiful colours can easily be served alongside even the heaviest meat-laden dishes.
This seasonal salad relies on winter squash, my favourite Keto 5-Minute Caramelized Candied Pecans, a roasted red onion along with a hint of chopped mint for the ultimate flavour.
This salad comes together with only a couple of ingredients in 30 minutes!
It all starts with roasting a butternut squash alongside some red onions, which takes about 35 minutes to roast. While that’s happening, start your creamy tahini dressing and then all that is left to do is assemble the masterpiece!
Plant-Based, Whole30 and Paleo Salad Options
Regardless of which style of eating you are adhering to, this roasted squash salad can fit any diet.
For Paleo and Whole 30, make sure that you use a Whole30 approved mayo. If you have never made homemade mayo, you absolutely HAVE to give this recipe a try. I promise you that once you make mayo from scratch, you will NEVER buy store-bought mayo again!! As for the sugar-free maple syrup, replace it with about 1 tablespoon of Whole30 Vegan Date Paste
What are the Main Components of this Keto Winter Salad?
Winter Squash - Although I used butternut squash for this recipe, you can use any type of winter squash that you want. You can not use summer squash (ie. zucchini and yellow squash) as they will not hold their texture after being roasted.
Red Onion - Red onions are subtly sweet and mild enough to eat raw. The vivid magenta colour of their skin makes a great addition to salads and salsas. I find their flavour a little too strong when eaten raw so we are going to roast them alongside the squash to help bring out their sweetness.
Tahini - Tahini, also called “tahina” in some countries, may look a little like peanut butter, but it doesn't taste like it. Tahini isn't sweet like most nut butters, and the nutty flavour is strong and earthy and can be a little bitter. Made from hulled sesame seeds, the slight bitterness is perfect to offset the sweetness from both the butternut squash and the red onion.
Sugar-free Maple Syrup - By adding a touch of sugar-free maple syrup to the salad dressing, it offsets the slight bitterness of the tahini. I used ChocZero or Lakanto depending on which one I have in my fridge.
Kalamata Olives - This ingredient is purely optional but since we LOVE olives, I decided that the brininess from the olives would add a nice dimension to this keto winter salad.
Mint - Don't freak out when you see this ingredient as fresh mint is an absolutely wonderful addition. It is very mild so if you are thinking it is going to taste like mint extract, you are absolutely mistaken. The primary flavour profile of mint is a subtly sweet taste but if you absolutely don't want to add it, you can omit it or use a different type of herb instead.
Candied Pecans - After creating my Keto 5-Minute Caramelized Candied Pecans recipe, I always have an extra batch lying around for a healthy, low carb and keto-friendly snack. If you don't want to make candied pecans, you can use any type of nut or seed of your choice.
OPTIONAL - For a splash of colour, I added some cranberries and pomegranates. They do not add much flavour but they definitely give this salad some beautiful red accents!
How to Cut a Butternut Squash
Thick-skinned, lumpy and admittedly a little hard to cut into, winter squash can be weirdly intimidating. But we think this simple tahini roasted squash salad will make a convert out of you—it celebrates squash in all of its delicious sweetness, and comes together quickly and easily. Squash salad isn’t squash salad without squash ) so there’s no way around this step.
If you want pictures and details on roasted winter squash, check out my How to Roast Winter Squash
- First you need to have a good sharp knife.
- Now, the trick is to start on one side of the stem and cut straight through the squash (not the stem; don't even try to cut through the stem).
- Continue to cut around the squash until the knife stops meeting resistance. Once there is no more resistance, it means that you have cut through to the hollow middle.
- Continue cutting around the side of the squash, through the tip, then around the other side, ending up on the other side of the stem.
- Then, grab the squash with your big, strong hands, and pull it apart.
- As you pull apart the sides, the squash will split to one side of the stem. You can trim the stem out at this point, but I usually just leave it in.
- Clean out the seeds using either a knife or a spoon.
As for roasting the squash, I have decided to keep things simple and in this recipe, we are going to use the oven to roast the winter squash along with the red onion.
Can I add some protein to this Keto Plant-based Salad?
Of course, you can!
Turkey, pork tenderloin, salmon, shrimp, or anything else you can think of! This will alter the nutritional values (as well as no longer be considered Plant-Based!), but you can easily copy the ingredients into your favourite online nutritional calculator to find the new values.
Can I make this Keto Winter Salad ahead of time?
You can make components of this salad up to 24 hours before serving and then simply toss the ingredients whenever you want.
Make sure that you properly cool the vegetables and place them in the fridge and then let them come to room temperature (this will take about 1 hour) before assembling the salad.
As for the tahini salad dressing, you can make the salad dressing up to 3 days ahead. If the dressing becomes too thin, simply add a little water until the desired consistency is reached.
More delicious Plant-Based Keto recipes:
- Keto Pumpkin Maple Coconut Clusters - Vegan and Plant-Based
- Healthy Keto Edible Cookie Dough - Plant-based, Vegan and Dairy-Free Recipe
- Roasted Cauliflower Tomato Salad - Keto & Plant-Based
- Plant-Based Keto Dairy-Free Eggplant Pizza Crust
- Whole30 Grain-free Plant-Based Burgers
- Vegan Plant-Based Creamy Garlic Sauce
For the Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced through the root into 1 ½-inch thick
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the Salad and Dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 1-3 tablespoon sugar-free maple syrup (optional)
- 2 tbsp mayo
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 5 oz (5 cups) mixed salad greens
- ¾ cup candied pecans
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
For the Roasted Vegetables:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss all the cubed butternut squash and red onion along with the olive oil, cumin, salt and black pepper together in a bowl. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the squash and onion are browned and tender, about 35 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Prepare the Salad and Salad Dressing:
- Meanwhile, whisk the tahini, water, mayo, sugar-free maple syrup (if using), lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the now-empty bowl until creamy and thoroughly combined.
- Reserve ¼ cup of dressing. Add the mixed green to the remaining dressing in the bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the arugula on a large serving plater. Top with roasted vegetables, pecans, olives and mint. Drizzle salad with reserved dressing.
- If you want to reduce the number of carbs in this recipe, you can omit the butternut squash. If you remove the butternut squash, each serving will only contain 4 grams of net carbs versus 8 grams.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Main Meals, Salads, Side Dish
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American, Fall, Holidays, Winter
- Diet: Vegetarian
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 268
- Sugar: 2.5
- Fat: 24
- Carbohydrates: 12
- Fiber: 4.1
- Protein: 4.2
Keywords: roasted vegetables, butternut, tahini, winter salad, gluten-free, healthy, keto, plant-based, vegan, vegetarain