Roasted Butternut Squash with Mixed Salad Greens and Homemade Dressing Recipe

The first time you introduce your child to salad, offer the greens and other mix-ins separately for the child to try.

From Adventures in Veggieland
March 2018

  • squash mixed green salad, kid-friendly, kids in the kithcen
    Top the salad with glazed pecans and pomegranate seeds for added sweetness.
    Photo by Sarah Smith
  • adventures in veggieland, melanie potuck, kid-friendly veggies, help picky eaters with vegetables
    “Adventures in Veggieland,” by Melanie Potuck, is must read for parents with picky-eaters.
    Courtesy of The Experiment Publishing
  • squash mixed green salad, kid-friendly, kids in the kithcen
  • adventures in veggieland, melanie potuck, kid-friendly veggies, help picky eaters with vegetables

Total Hands-On Time: 50 minutes

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables―with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (The Experiment, 2018), by Melanie Potock, is a wonderful guide to get kids involved in the kitchen. Potock provides many useful ways to get kids prepping and playing with the veggies they prepare.  By exploring the veggies before they eat, kids may be less apt to turn their noses at what they prepared. Find this excerpt in Part One: “Butternut Squash.”


• 12 ounces (340 g) packaged fresh butternut squash cubes or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed 
• 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
• Salt and black pepper to taste 
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 
• 1 tablespoon water 
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
• 1/2 cup (60 g) raw pecan halves 
• 3 cups (about 90 g) lettuce (spring mix or chopped butter lettuce is ideal) 
• Pomegranate seeds 

• 3 tablespoons olive oil 
• 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
• Salt and black pepper to taste 


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Toss the squash cubes with the coconut oil and salt and pepper on a baking sheet (lined with foil for easy cleanup), leaving space between the cubes for even roasting. 

2. Roast the squash for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cubes are tender and browned on the edges. Remove the cubes from the pan and allow them to cool slightly. 

3. While the squash is roasting, toast and glaze the pecans. Make the glaze by mixing the brown sugar, water, and vanilla, stirring them together until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Heat a saucepan over medium heat (use a pan just big enough to hold the pecans in a single layer) and when the bottom is warm, add the pecans. Toast for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the brown sugar mixture and heat until the liquid is dissolved, leaving a glaze on the nuts. Place the nuts on parchment paper or a clean plate to cool. Do not touch the pecans until they have cooled—the glaze is very hot! 

5. To make the Homemade Dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small jar. Screw the lid on tightly. Wrap a few rubber bands around the glass jar to provide added grip. Parents, hand your kid the jar and tell them to shake it until the dressing has emulsified—that is, the oil and vinegar are completely mixed. Then tell them to keep shaking the jar. Inspect and tell them to shake it again. Continue until the child has worked up an appetite.

6. Chop the glazed pecans. Toss the lettuce, squash, and pecans with the Homemade Dressing, just enough to coat lightly. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top and serve.

All Kids Can . . .

• Line the baking sheet with foil
• Toss squash cubes in the oil and seasonings
• Spread the squash on the baking sheet
• Mix the glaze for the pecans
• Chop the cooled pecans with a kid-safe knife
• Put the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake!
• Toss the salad 
• Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top

Parenting in the Kitchen

For hesitant eaters, deconstruct the salad into small samples of squash, chopped pecans, lettuce, and pomegranate seeds, along with a small sample of dressing for dipping. Add one more sample of the constructed salad, where all the ingredients are mixed together with dressing. Use this technique whenever you meet resistance to unfamiliar combinations, to build confidence in your kids as they learn to adjust to the mixture of new foods.

More from Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables―with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes:

• Gruyere and Parsnip Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Recipe from Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables―with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes by Melanie Potock. © Melanie Potock/The Experiment, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

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