January 18, 2012

Roasted Squash, Beet & Chestnut Salad with Warm Walnut Dressing

Lately, I've been eating a lot of one of my favourite vegetables - beets! I've been using them in a variety of ways - raw and roasted, sweet and savory...so you can expect to see at least a few beet recipes here in the near future!

One of the recipes I made with all my beets was this warm winter salad full of roasted veggies with toasted pecans and chestnuts, all tossed in a creamy walnut dressing over mixed greens. It was so good that I ate it for dinner three nights in a row and then I was disappointed when it ran out!

The inspiration for this salad started with the roasted chestnuts...after my sister told me about a vegetarian stuffing she made with chestnuts, I couldn't get them off my mind. So I chose a couple other vegetables that I thought would compliment the chestnuts, then looked through my cookbooks for a suitable salad dressing.  I found a recipe in Vegan Planet for a warm dressing made by blending up toasted walnuts and I thought that sounded perfect!

I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed when I tasted everything together, but thankfully the salad lived up to my expectations! I loved the combination of the squash, beets, and chestnuts and the pecans were the perfect addition to complete the salad. But the star of the whole thing was definitely the walnut dressing - the toasted, nutty flavour complimented all the other ingredients so well!

There were a lot of components to this salad to prepare, but the good part is that you can make a big batch of all the vegetables and the dressing one day, and then store each of the components separately in the fridge to get at least a few meals out of them.

Roasted Squash, Beet & Chestnut Salad with Warm Walnut Dressing

*I’ve noted the amounts that I used below, which got me about 3 salads, but treat these as guidelines – as long as you follow the same process with the same ingredients, the precise amounts aren’t that important!

2 medium beets, washed
1/2 lb chestnuts in their shells (about 14 chestnuts)
2.5 - 3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (I used the pre-cut kind)
olive oil
1/3 cup chopped pecans
About 4.5 cups mixed greens (1.5 cups per serving)

Adapted from Vegan Planet
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub beets and wrap them in foil. Place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast for about one hour, until a knife can easily pierce them.

Meanwhile, prepare the chestnuts by scoring an “X” on one side of the shell with a knife (this will allow some steam to escape so they don’t explode in the oven). Place the chestnuts on one side of a large baking sheet, with the cut side facing up.

Toss the squash with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on the other side of the baking sheet next to the chestnuts. When there is about 25 minutes left in the roasting time for the beets, add the chestnuts and squash to the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the chestnuts are dark and starting to split open and the squash is tender and starting to brown (you don’t want it to be too soft).

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the pecans and the walnut dressing: 

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pecans and toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

Add the walnuts to the pan and toast for a few minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the canola oil. Continue to heat on low for about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth, then return dressing to the pan and keep warm over very low heat.

When the vegetables are done, remove from oven and let cool slightly until ready to handle. Trim the ends off the beets and peel off the skin. Slice beets into wedges. Pry the skins off the chestnuts using a knife or your hands and remove the nut from inside. Chop chestnuts into small pieces.

If you are making a single serving of salad, lay the mixed greens on a large plate. Place some of the beets, squash and chestnuts on top of the greens. Sprinkle with some of the chopped pecans. Pour about a third of the dressing (or however much dressing you like) over the salad and gently toss to combine.

Alternately, you could add the full amounts of everything to a large bowl and toss together before serving onto plates.

Makes 3-4 servings.


  1. This salad looks fantastic. Yum! I love roasted squash and beets.

  2. roasted squash and beet in a salad - delicious! I love the nuts too, this is right up my alley!

    1. Delicious indeed! I hope to keep up my streak (if you can call two a streak) of recipes that are up your alley!

  3. You had me at warm walnut dressing - that sound absolutely amazing!
    I really wish I was having this for lunch today :-)

    1. Now I wish I was too! I definitely loved the dressing...the original recipe used lemon juice instead of orange, so you could try it that way too!



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