Butternut Squash and Lentil Spinach Salad

overhead view of butternut squash and lentil spinach salad on a white late with a gold fork.

If ever a salad could be cozy and comforting it would be this butternut squash and lentil spinach salad with roasted butternut squash and red onion, lentils, cranberries and toasted pecans. It's fully loaded for a meal-style salad that also makes a delicious side dish for everything from holidays to weeknight dinners. (gluten-free, vegetarian)



For the roasted squash and onions:

  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cloves garlic (leave the skin on)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

For the lentils:

  • 1 cups dry lentils
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the salad:

  • 1 (5 oz) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

For the Dressing:

  • Roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper


  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash, onion, and garlic with oil, salt and pepper. 
  3. Spread into a single layer on the baking sheet and roast 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. 
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside, reserving garlic for the dressing.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the lentils. Add lentils to a saucepan with broth, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Season with salt after cooking.
  6. Make the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins. Mash with a fork. Add remaining dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. 
  7. Pour dressing over the lentils and stir to coat.
  8. Place spinach in a large serving bowl. Add pecans, cranberries, feta, roasted squash, onions, and lentils. Gently stir to combine and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • You can toast the pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes or in a dry skillet on the stove.

Ingredient substitutions:

  • This salad can be made with your favorite type of winter squash or even roasted sweet potatoes in place of butternut squash. 
  • This would also be great with goat cheese instead of feta. Or leave out the cheese for a dairy-free and vegan version.
  • Walnuts are also delicious instead of pecans. 

To make in advance:

  • You can roast the vegetables, cook the lentils, and make the dressing up to a couple days in advance. Reheat the squash, onions and lentils before tossing the salad together. 
  • If you'll be serving the salad cold, you can toss everything except for the spinach together and refrigerate, then add the spinach just before serving.

Keywords: butternut squash lentil spinach salad, fall spinach salad with lentils, spinach salad with lentils and butternut squash