Full of cozy Fall flavors, this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with maple vinaigrette makes an incredible no-reheat lunch, or dinner side! It’s both sweet and salty, plus packed with roasted squash, pistachios, and feta!
If you’re trying to figure out a way to keep up the no-reheat lunches after summertime, look no further than this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad! This salad has it all – something sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy!
The butternut squash is roasted to perfection, giving you golden-brown maple touched outsides, with soft and creamy insides. The maple vinaigrette perfectly sweetens the entire salad, balanced by the salty pistachios and feta.
This squash salad is best enjoyed warm or at room temperature. Simply leave it out of the fridge for an hour or so before enjoying to achieve the perfect serving temperature. This is the kind of lunch that makes co-workers say, “Where’d you get that?!”
Total Time: 50 minutes
Prep: Make-Ahead Friendly
What are the ingredients in this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad?
This recipe is made with pantry staples and simple ingredients I’m sure you can find at your favorite grocery store. Here’s a list of everything I used in this recipe and important info about each:
- butternut squash – Look for a squash on the smaller end to prevent leftovers. You can also use precut squash if available. Be sure to peel the squash well, continuing until all the green skin and white lines are gone.
- avocado oil – Perfect oil for roasting vegetables at high temperatures!
- pure maple syrup – To sweeten the salad and balance out all that saltiness, we’re using pure maple syrup on the squash as well as in the dressing. A little goes a long way!
- paprika – This is another ingredient that helps balance all the sweetness and bring a more complex flavor profile overall.
- garlic powder – Another handy spice to season the squash, bringing flavor and savory notes to the salad.
- red onions – Roasting removes the sharp bite of the onions and brings out the creamy sweetness. It’s a wonderful way to get the onion flavor without the harshness.
- couscous – I’m sure this recipe would work with any kind of couscous, but it was developed and tested using Moroccan couscous.
- feta cheese – Perhaps my favorite addition to the salad, crumbled feta adds a creamy texture, as well as a deep salty flavor that contrasts perfectly with the sweet maple syrup flavors.
- pistachios – Look for roasted and salted pistachios, preferably with the shells already removed. Check in the bulk section if your grocery store has one!
- parsley – Curly parsley is recommended over flat leaf Italian parsley, but either one will work!
- extra virgin olive oil – EVOO has the best flavor overall, which will definitely come through in the vinaigrette dressing.
- apple cider vinegar – I love ACV because it’s super mild and adds a great flavor, but still has all the properties of vinegar.
- ground cinnamon – Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon goes into the dressing, which melds perfectly with the sweet flavors and the savory flavors! You’ll be surprised at how well the cinnamon brings everything together.
- garlic clove – Adding just one minced garlic clove brings the perfect bite of fresh garlic without being too overpowering. Normally, I’m like, “ADD 10X GARLIC” but maybe stick with just one here since it’s enjoyed raw in the dressing.
- kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper – For the very best flavor, salt as you go! I also recommend using fresh ground black pepper anytime a recipe calls for pepper.
How do you make the Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad?
For how fancy this one looks, there’s really not that much work involved, especially if you can find some pre-cut butternut squash. All the veggies roast on one-pan together, and the couscous practically cooks itself!
First, preheat the oven to 425F. Add the squash, 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil, maple syrup, paprika, garlic powder and a generous amount of salt and pepper to a large bowl. Toss the squash until everything is well coated in oil and spices.
Line a rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up. Dump the squash across just 2/3 of the sheet pan in a single layer. Next, toss the onion slices in the same bowl with the remaining oil, and a little more salt and pepper. Spread them across the final 2/3 of the sheet pan as well.
If your baking sheet is not big enough and things are looking a little crowded, spread the vegetables across two smaller pans. Everything should fit on a half sheet pan size baking sheet as pictured here ⤵️
Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, removing from the oven and stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking. Some ovens will cook quicker than others, so check the veggies at 25 minutes total and add 5 more minutes if needed.
When the vegetables are done, the squash will be fork-tender and slightly browned on the edges. The onions should be quite soft and slightly charred as well. Leave them to cool on the baking sheet for a bit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
While the veggies are in the oven, measure out the couscous into the bottom of a large mixing bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. You can use a kettle or microwave with heat safe measuring cup to get the water near 212F as you can.
Quickly cover the bowl with food wrap and leave the couscous to steam for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the wrap and fluff the cooked couscous up with a fork. Be sure to remove as many clumps as possible.
Next, whisk the dressing ingredients together. You can also add the ingredients to a small mason jar with a lid and shake hard until it’s well mixed together. Check the seasoning of the dressing: add more salt if it tastes a little flat, more pepper if you’re looking for more depth of flavor.
Now is a good time to chop up the pistachios and parsley if not already done. After the roasted veggies have cooled a bit, scrape all the vegetables from the baking tray into the bowl with the fluffed couscous. Add the feta, pistachios, and parsley, then pour the dressing over the entire bowl.
Gently fold everything together until the salad is well combined. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve either warm or at room temperature. I prefer this salad room temperature for sure, as well as with some extra feta and pistachios on top.
Best tips for making squash couscous salad:
Here are my best tips for making this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad successfully in your own kitchen:
- Use a large bowl for the couscous, one that will eventually fit the entire salad. It will seem odd for a small amount of couscous in a large bowl, but you’ll need the space later.
- Do your best to cut all the squash pieces the same size for the most even cooking! Here’s a simple guide on How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash.
- If you don’t like feta, you can use crumbled goat cheese instead. If you do skip the feta, I would add a few more pistachios to make up for the lack of salt.
Can I use a different kind of squash instead of butternut?
Yes! Any kind of winter squash will work, including acorn, Hubbard, sugar pumpkin, and more.
Ways to customize this couscous salad:
Here are some ways to change up this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with some swaps and add-ins:
- add a protein – Try some sliced grilled chicken breast on top for a super filling meal.
- change the nuts – The flavor of pistachios goes really well here, but I think some chopped almonds would work too.
- swap the squash – You can use pumpkin or any other kind of winter squash if that’s what you already have on hand.
- add dried fruit – I think this is seriously delicious with some dried cranberries on top!
How do you meal prep this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad?
Here are some ideas on how to meal prep or make portions of this recipe ahead of time at your house:
- Ingredient prep: Cut and peel the squash ahead up to 3 days of time to save a few minutes on cooking day.
- Prep for now & later: Prepare the recipe as written and enjoy a portion or two now, while saving the rest for additional meals in the next 3 days.
- Complete prep & portion: Prepare the recipe as written and portion the salad into airtight meal prep containers to be enjoyed within the next 3 days. Since this recipe makes 4 portions, this works better if you have more than one person in your household.
Is this recipe freezer-friendly?
No, I would not recommend freezing this recipe. However, you can freeze roasted butternut squash in roasted cubes or purée form.
How to store Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad:
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 3 days.
How to reheat Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad:
I would not recommend heating this recipe up again, however I do recommend serving at room temperature. You can achieve this by removing the container from the fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before enjoying.
Full of cozy Fall flavors, this Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with maple vinaigrette makes an incredible no-reheat lunch or dinner side dish! It’s both sweet and salty, plus packed with roasted squash, pistachios, and feta!
For the salad:
- 1 1/2 pounds cubed butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large or 2 small red onions, roughly sliced
- 1 cup dry couscous
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup curly parsley, chopped
For the vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Prep the veggies: Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss together the squash, 1 tbsp of the avocado oil, maple syrup, paprika, garlic powder and a generous amount of salt and pepper until the squash is well coated. Spread the squash across 2/3 of a large rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Toss the onion wedges with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, a little more salt and pepper, then spread across the final 2/3 of the sheet pan. If your baking sheet is not big enough and things are looking a little crowded, spread the vegetables across two smaller pans.
- Roast the veggies: Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway to ensure even cooking. If you’re using two different baking sheets, rotate their position in the oven at the halfway mark. When done, the squash should be tender and slightly browned, and the onions should be soft and slightly charred.
- Make the couscous: Meanwhile, measure the couscous into the bottom of a large mixing bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Cover the bowl with food wrap and leave to steam for 10 minutes before fluffing the cooked couscous up with a fork.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together all the dressing ingredients (or shake together in a mason jar with lid) and check the seasoning: add more salt if it tastes a little flat, more pepper if you’re looking for more depth of flavor. Prepare the other salad add-ins if required.
- Assemble the salad: Scrape all the vegetables from the baking tray into the bowl with the couscous, and add the feta, pistachios, and parsley. Pour over the dressing and fold everything together with a metal spoon until combined.
- Serve and store: Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve either warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Toss leftovers before serving again.
Any variety of squash or pumpkin that is delicious roasted would be a good substitute for the butternut squash here. Crumbled goat cheese would also work well in place of the feta. I also love adding dried cranberries for another sweet touch. Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: about 2 cups
- Calories: 577
- Fat: 30g
- Carbohydrates: 75g
- Protein: 20g