Simple Thanksgiving Side Dish: Butternut Squash, Apple & Pecan Salad

Two months after I moved into my first apartment in West Hollywood, I decided that I’d give hosting Thanksgiving myself a shot. It was just my boyfriend, my parents and me, but I was so excited.

As a housewarming gift my mom had given me a little notebook with hand-written copies of all our favorite family recipes, and I had recently started trying to expand my kitchen repertoire by copying down cool dishes I came across and trying one out whenever I got the chance.

Which means that my cherished “Family Recipe Notebook” actually contains about fifteen things that I actually make…and also lots and lots of weirdly complicated recipes that I thought looked cool when I spotted them in some magazine or another, but never actually tried making (among them: garlic crab risotto, chipotle-honey salmon burgers, and a chilled champagne-ginger-mango soup that sounds extremely fancy but that I am fairly certain would not be my jam).

butternut squash green apple salad

This recipe, though? This one I made. (I think it might have come from a 2003-era Real Simple, but I can’t be certain.)

I remember being so proud of this dish the first time I served it. Which is kind of funny – I mean, it’s not difficult to make or especially elaborate, but still: at that point, I’d never made anything quite like it, and I remember feeling very glamorous and adult when I served it to my guests.

It’s still one of my favorites dishes to serve on Thanksgiving Day: it’s sweet, hearty and a little unexpected, and is also excellent for you (and particularly for your skin): butternut squash contains tons of Vitamin A to support healthy skin, pecans contain fiber that can help prevent breakouts, and green apples contain antioxidants that aide cellular rejuvenation and help you to maintain your glow.

If you’re looking for more skin-healthy ideas for your Thanksgiving table, check out nutritionist Ellie Krieger’s suggestions over on the Simple Skincare page (I’ve made her Cherry-Almond Chocolate Clusters, and they’re easy and great, and I think the Cucumber Cups with Salmon Whip would make a fun appetizer if you’re entertaining).

butternut squash salad ingredients

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What You Need:

1 lb butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup warm real maple syrup

2 large green apples (cored and cubed, not peeled)

pumpkin pie spice

What You Do:

1. Heat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes with the olive oil and pumpkin pie spice until coated.

butternut squash roasted

2. Spread squash in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet with sides, and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

maple syrup dressing

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and the maple syrup until smooth. Pour over the squash (this is why you need a baking sheet with sides) and bake an additional five minutes.

butternut squash salad

4. Toss the squash with the apples and pecans in a large bowl and let cool.

butternut squash apple salad

For more healthy-skin ideas (and personalized skincare recommendations), visit Simple This post was created in collaboration with Simple Skincare.

Pictured: Noritake Kona wood serving bowl; BoB and WoW Snow salad bowls.

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