Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons

I love salads, either as a main course for lunch or as a side at dinner. They can be prepared with a variety of seasonal greens, fruits and vegetables fresh from the market. This colorful  spinach and mushroom salad with butternut squash croutons is sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)  and drizzled with a dressing of dark green, nutty flavorful pumpkin seed oil and aged balsamic vinegar.  The salad has a lovely combination of flavors and textures. The earthy flavors of sautéed mushrooms, the sweet creaminess of the caramelized butternut squash croutons, and the crunch of the pepita seeds go so well with the tender leaves of the baby spinach dressed in a flavorful dressing.

Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons
Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons

This salad can be put together quickly. If you don’t wish to turn on your oven to roast the butternut squash, the croutons can be prepared on your stove top with similar results.

Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons

This recipe makes 2 large salads or 4 side salads so plan accordingly.

The dressing can be made earlier in the day. It is a simple mixture of 3 Tbsp. of pumpkin seed oil, 2 Tbsp. of aged balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

  • 1/2 of a butternut squash, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. or more olive oil for squash
  • 6 mushroom caps (2 inch size portobello or white)
  • 1 Tbsp. or more olive oil for mushrooms
  • 6 oz. package of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 Tbsp. or more pepita seeds, toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toss the cubed butternut squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a 425 degree oven until caramelized and tender (about 15 – 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. ( The squash can also be sautéed in a pan with olive oil until caramelized and soft).

In the meantime, heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms turn a little golden, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To serve, toss the spinach with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Plate and then arrange the mushrooms on the spinach and top with the butternut squash croutons. Sprinkle with the toasted pepitas and serve. Note: You may want to drizzle a little extra pumpkin seed oil on top for extra flavor.


If you haven’t tried pumpkin seed oil, I think you should search it out. I fell in love with its wonderful flavor on my trips to Austria and Germany where it is thought of as “green gold”. It has a rich nutty flavor that is wonderful drizzled over salads, soups, and other dishes. If heated at a high temperature, it can become bitter. If stored properly, it will keep about a year.

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211 thoughts on “Spinach And Mushroom Salad With Butternut Squash Croutons

  1. Now we are talking … and nicely moist chicken on top. Wonderful .. this is a MUST for me tomorrow. Thanks, Karen. I will not be able to to get pumpkin oil .. not worried to much about this.
    Post will follow next week.

    1. Hi Viveka, I think you will enjoy the salad. I had to buy my pumpkin seed oil at a specialty store but it was worth the search. Your salad will be delicious without it…topping it with chicken will be great. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

      1. We don’t do any pumpkins in Sweden .. except for Halloween. Not for eating what so ever.

        Sure I will make it work .. love the look and the ingredients in and I love my chicken and maybe some bacon dices.

      2. It is primarily the Austrians who make the pumpkin seed oil. They open the pumpkins right in the fields, harvest the seeds and leave the pumpkins to enrich the fields for the next crop. Bacon along with your chicken will certainly create a terrific meal.

      3. I thought that was an American thing, the oil – until I came to the end of your post.

        Promise I will let you know about the outcome.

    1. Thank you Monique, for your nice compliment. Our choice of ingredients for a salad are more limited in the winter. This combination worked well.

  2. I was wondering what on earth to serve with my prosciutto wrapped tilapia tonight, and then you posted this wonderful winter salad! I will use this as my inspiration with what I have on hand. Wonderful, thank you Karen. Stay warm, we have a bitter cold front coming through with light snow.

    1. Hi Eva, I’m happy that I have given you inspiration for what to prepare as a side for your meal this evening. Enjoy! This week is going to be bitter cold here as well with more snow forecasted…best for indoor activities.

    1. Thank you Roger, for your lovely compliment. I do try to cook healthy meals the majority of the time but I definitely want them to be delicious as well. This salad had a lot going for it.

    1. Hi Frugal, The salad was very hearty…add a little cheese or other protein and it could be a complete meal. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Emil, I’m glad you like my idea of using the squash for croutons…they worked perfectly. I agree with you about pumpkin seed oil being terrific drizzled on soups. I love its nutty rich flavor. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Marie. I chuckled at your comment about Angel thinking the squash looks like carrots…they are both so orange. I’m glad you like the salad and thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Linda, Arugula is a great choice for this salad…the bitter greens would go well with the sweetness of the squash. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Sissi, I was staring at the pork ribs in the market earlier…I bought ground pork instead. I think you will like what I’m going to do with it in a future post. In the meantime, this is a nice winter salad.

  3. Three of my favorite things, spinach, butternut squash and mushrooms! In the same dish! Oh yes, I will be making this for lunch. I’ve never tried all three together before and it sounds fantastic. Thank you for this!

  4. The salad looks glorious, of course, but I’m betting it’s just as tasty. I’m not very familiar with eating raw spinach salads so I’d be tempted to use arugula but otherwise, it sounds like a winner.

    1. Thank you Boleyn, for your very nice compliment. It does taste as good as it looks. Raw baby spinach leaves are nice in a salad but arugula will be wonderful as well.

      1. I’m trying to use more arugula in my salads but it’s so perishable and doesn’t last long in my veggie crisper so there’s a lot of wastage. It was a great accompaniment to a duck dinner I made for New Year’s and in wraps with the leftover duck meat afterwards.

  5. Delightful flavors in this salad. Pumpkin seed oil is new to me — I’ll have to search it out. And using squash as croutons is something I’ve never done. Love the idea. This is such a nicely balanced salad; I’ll bet you can taste each individual flavor as you eat it, yet I’ll also bet they meld together well. Really outstanding recipe — thanks so much.

    1. Thank you John, for your kind words. I’m glad that you like the recipe. I do think that you would enjoy pumpkin seed oil. It has a rich nutty taste and doesn’t take much to give great flavor to a dish. I’m sure you can find it in a specialty food store.

  6. Yay! Another one for me to try…just as soon as the ill effects of the flu have gone. All these ingredients sound like they would be wonderful together.

    1. Poor Baby…you have the flu. Be first in line for a flu shoot next year. Yes, I made another recipe that is vegan. The spaghetti squash with the basil tomato sauce is another as long as you leave out the meatballs. Actually a lot of my recipes can be adapted to your new lifestyle. Take care and get better soon.

      1. Once I get back to blogging (I am trying right now to do a post…sort of), I am going to do a post about the italian soup. I have made it 2x already…it is so yummy. Plus, I have used your blanching the kale method for a lentil soup too, reserving some of the water for flavor even. Good stuff. Thanks for the well wishes!

      2. I’m glad you like the soup…it is a comforting dish, especially when you are not feeling well. I’ll look forward to your posts.

  7. I know I would love Pumpkin Seed Oil, but have never seen it to purchase. We do have a dish in the Yucatan that drizzles it over an egg dish, but still, I can’t find it. This recipe looks fabulous. I love the combination of ingredients. Have made something similar, but never with mushrooms. Looks wonderful for colder weather.

    1. Hi Victoria, I’m sure you would enjoy pumpkin seed oil. It is not easy for me to get either. I got mine at a food specialty store. Pepitas play such a role in Mexican cooking that you would think the oil would be used as well…I bet the egg dish is good. This salad is good during a season when tomatoes in the market have no taste.

    1. Thank you, Anne…yumlicious is a nice compliment. I’m glad you like the recipe with the squash croutons. I’m sure you will enjoy using pumpkin seed oil as it has a terrific nutty flavor.

    1. Hi Sandra, It is always nice to hear when someone has tried one of my recipes and enjoyed it…I’m glad you liked the shrimp salad. I got my oil at a specialty food store. If you can’t find it, the salad will be good prepared with extra virgin olive oil. I appreciate your nice compliment.

    1. Hi GG, The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar paired nicely with the pumpkin oil…cider vinegar would be good as well. I’m glad you like the recipe, thank you for your compliment.

    1. Thank you Celia, for your nice compliment. I’m glad you like the combination…I thought the salad turned out great. I really do think it is worth trying to find the pumpkin seed oil. I had it in so many dishes when we were in Austria and Germany. You can’t believe how great it is drizzled on pumpkin soup.

  8. I’m looking at the picture and I think I can taste the sweetness of the butternut squash with the mushrooms, fresh salad and crunchy pepitas! Just brilliant Karen!

    1. Hi Diane, This is definitely not like the boring side salads we get at many restaurants…I’m glad you like it. Pumpkin seed oil has a terrific taste and is wonderful drizzled on so many dishes. Thank you for you nice compliment.

  9. To be honest: I typically cannot stand salads unless they are a side dish. They tend to make me feel cheated of “real food”. But this salad looks totally different. I can just taste the flavour combination and it makes such sense as a salad! Maybe you have a convert here 🙂

  10. I’ve never tasted pumpkin oil, and I’m not sure if I would find it here. I do have organic pumpkin seeds in my cupboard, always! Love them in salads, although I’ve never bothered to dry roast them. Love the pumpkin croutons – far better than fried bread.

    1. Hi Johnny, I had to drive down to a specialty food store in Massachusetts…I couldn’t pumpkin seed oil in New Hampshire. It was worth the trip but of course I bought a lot of other ingredients that I would never find in our rural area. The salad would be good made with extra virgin olive oil as well. Toasting the pepitas or pumpkin seeds just enhances their flavor. The pumpkin croutons were delicious…much better than fried bread and healthier.

  11. What a fabulous looking salad which will be a main dish in this home soonest! Love that you used portobellos: quite my favourite at the moment! And the butternut pumpkin croutons are a truly inspired idea! Thanks heaps. To go back a blog: have found out one of our greengrocery chains does have spaghetti squash. Not close to me, but when friends come visiting . . . Hope you don’t mind but I mentioned you and your posts on the Oz blog giving the details, so you may have some more visitors from Down Under!!

    1. Thank you Eha, for your kind words. I really appreciate your compliment and that you mentioned my posts on the Oz blog…that was very kind. I think you will really enjoy this salad…I thought the pumpkin croutons really added to the salad. Happy to hear that you found a source for spaghetti squash.

  12. Butternut squash croutons. .. wow!
    What agreat idea!…
    This is such a healthy salad… a must try..
    B/W I hope karen you doing good, I had been away for a whike so missed out on your few posts…

    1. Thank you Reem, I’m glad you like the idea of the butternut squash croutons. I think this is a healthy salad that has a lot of wonderful flavors. I appreciate your thoughts…I’m doing well, thank you.

  13. Hi, Karen! My family is back exercising and eating salads.. your salad is one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen in a while! I love everything in this recipe and know my family would too.. especially the roasted croutons.. what a great idea! I have avocado oil left over.. do you think it would work with these flavors? If not I’d totally be into picking up some pumpkin seed oil.. it sounds so yummy!! xxBarb

    1. Thank you Barbara, I really appreciate your kind words. I think most flavorful oils would work in this salad. I do think that if you have a source for pumpkin seed oil that is what I would suggest. Its flavors are very distinctive…a rich nutty flavor that is special. I think you will enjoy using the oil in lots of recipes.

    1. Hi Bam, Yes…pepitas are hulled pumpkin seeds. You are right, you won’t think you are eating healthy as there is so much flavor in this salad. Thank you for your nice comment.

  14. Mmmm.. pumpkin seed oil, sounds great! I am now on a mission to find it!

    We have salad every night and this will be something to add to our list, good to include variety in our salads. I think chickpea would go well with this! 🙂

    1. Hi Ming, It sounds like you like salads as much as I do. I hope you will be able to find the pumpkin seed oil…it is delicious drizzled over salads and soups. Thank you for your nice comment.

  15. I love the idea of the butternut squash croutons. I’ve never seen that before. I also love how you used the toasted pumpkin seeds and then the pumpkin oil with balsamic vinegar to create the dressing. It really brings everything together.

    1. Hi Michelle, I agree with you about mushrooms…I love the wonderful flavor they have when sautéed to a golden brown instead of served raw. The pumpkin seed oil really gave this salad such a great taste…I’m glad you like it as well. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  16. All my favorite things in a warm salad! Yum! Guess I’ll need to find some butternut squash at my next farm share pick up.

    Hope you’re doing well in the New Year!

    Stay warm! 🙂

    1. Hi Koritt, Thank you for your nice wish…the new year is going very well. I think you will enjoy the salad. So good hearing from you, take care.

  17. Oh my goodness, Karen! This is MY kind of salad. I could really live entirely on good salads, and this is so unique. I have never had this combination and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve seen some lovely combinations on great menus, but I think this is a total stand-out! 🙂

    1. Thank you Jessica, for your lovely compliment. I doubt genius…:) but the butternut squash croutons were delicious and really made the salad.

  18. Karen, you know this is a beautiful and healthy salad and you used one of my very favorite precious oils in your recipe for the dressing of the salad. As you already know, a good quality, cold-pressed “pumpkin seed oil” (“Kürbiskernöl”) can be hard to find in stores in North America but it has an amazing taste that can a bit of getting used to – I always think that the oil adds another dimension of flavor to a lot of dishes.

    1. Thank you Andrea, for your nice compliment. I agree with you about the wonderful nutty taste that pumpkin seed oil adds. The delicious pumpkin soup that was in my post about our visit to Meersburg had the flavorful oil drizzled on top. I would buy the oil just to flavor that one soup…as you say, it adds another dimension of flavor to so many dishes.

  19. I have to tell you, Karen, that it’s always a real treat to visit here. You travel logs are wonderful and your recipes creative as well as delicious. This salad is no exception. Making croutons out of butternut squash is such a great idea! I am sending this link to a few vegetarian friends. They’re going to love it — as I know I will. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you John, for your kind words. You always leave the nicest compliments which are very much appreciated. We really enjoyed this salad and I hope your vegetarian friends will like the recipe as well.

    1. Hi Kate, I know we both enjoy salads and this is a good one for the fall and winter season…and yes, healthy too. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  20. I love the look of this salad. I made a very similar salad a week or so ago for my son’s birthday dinner. It just didn’t have the mushrooms – I’ll have to try your version. xx

    1. Hi Laila, I’m glad you like the looks of this salad…it is really delicious with the butternut squash croutons. It sounds like I did this post just at the right time since you have the squash on your counter. Thank you for your nice compliment and enjoy!

  21. Oh my goodness, Karen! When I saw this. . . I felt so hungry. It looks so appetizing. I love mushrooms and the way you cooked them are just amazing. Thank you and I hope you are having a great week! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ray, for your very nice compliment. I Love sautéed mushrooms in a spinach salad…I think they go so well together. Have a nice week as well.

    1. Hi Trang, I’m glad you like the croutons. I think they really added a lot to the salad…color wise and taste wise. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Nazneen, for your nice compliment. You are right…we definitely need color in our life during winter. I think this is a good salad to have this time of the year.

  22. This looks absolutely delicious! We’ve been eating salads at least once a week since New Years and this will make a great version to add to the mix. (I doubt I’ll get the kids to eat the squash though…one of these days perhaps.) 🙂

    1. Hi Kristy, I’m glad that you like the salad and want to give it a try. As to your kids, they never cease to amaze me with what they will eat. Considering that the caramelized butternut squash has such a sweet taste they may like it. Thank you for your nice compliment…I hope you enjoy the salad.

    1. Hi Tanya, Thank you for your nice compliment. It is a colorful salad and quite good. I’m glad you like the new header photo…actually I took that photo in the Alsace region of France.

  23. This is such a creative salad recipe. I love the butternut squash croutons. I have everything I need to make this but the mushrooms. This is definitely a must make recipe!

    1. Hi Sylvia, I’m glad that you like the recipe…I thought the croutons really added a nice flavor and color to the dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Geni, I’m glad you like the salad. I think we are both trying to eat the same way. The butternut squash croutons were great. I hope you will enjoy the salad as much as we did. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Meg, This salad really is colorful and tastes as good as it looks. I’m glad you found the information about pumpkin seed oil useful…it is delicious. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  24. I love butternut squash and haven’t cooked as much of it this year as I usually do. And I love it in a salad, too. This preparation looks amazing, and I really think I’d enjoy the combo of flavors from the mushrooms, squash and spinach. Bravo, Karen!

  25. Your butternut squash croutons are inspired, Karen! I appreciate hearty, flavorful salads such as these. I’ve seen pumpkin seed oil and will grab it the next time I do – thanks for the tip!

    1. Thank you Hannah, for your lovely compliment. Do buy pumpkin seed oil…it is different from other oils with its lovely nutty flavor. I’m glad you like the butternut squash croutons, I think they made the salad.

    1. Hi France, I’m glad you like the salad. Winter salads can be a little challenging but I was happy with this one. The squash croutons really made the dish I think. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Lorraine, I agree with you about colorful salads. It is always nice to serve a dish that has eye appeal as well as tasting good. I’m glad you like the squash croutons…thank you for your compliment.

    1. Hi B, I’m glad you like my salad…it was as good as it looks. The butternut squash croutons were great. Thank you for your compliment.

    1. Hi Candice, You are in a rural area like I am…I would suggest looking online for pumpkin seed oil. I found mine at a speciality food store in Massachusetts. Until you find the oil, you could use extra virgin olive oil. Thank you for your nice compliment…I’m glad you like the salad.

    1. Thank you Jasline, for your nice compliments. I was very happy with this salad and I’m glad that you like it as well. It does have a lot of nice textures and flavors.

    1. Hi Pat, It is good to hear from you now that you are settled in your new home. I’m glad you like the salad with the butternut squash croutons. They added a lot of taste and color to the salad. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  26. Love your creative idea of butternut squash croutons instead of bread croutons, especially for those on GF diet. Must look for pumpkin seed oil.
    Am not receiving e-mail for new post to your blog, need to re-subscribe.

    1. Hi Norma, I’m glad you like the butternut squash croutons…I think they added so much to this salad. I have been having problems with the reader as well. Hopefully the problem with be fixed soon. Thank you for your comment and letting me know.

  27. Ok, this may sound funny, but I have just been making almost exactly the same salad just without spinach (regular greens) and no seeds. Will add them next time. 🙂

    1. Hi Michele, I’m glad that you like this salad. It sounds like my timing for posting this recipe was perfect for you. Thank you for your nice compliment and enjoy the salad.

  28. Karen I’ve known it for some time, but it’s confirmed again here, you and I speak the same language in the kitchen! 🙂 I adore the sounds of this salad – love every ingredient – except the pumpkin seed oil – which I’ll love as soon as I can get my hands on some! Thanks for another wonderful salad recipe!

    1. Karen – I went online to Amazon – noticed several brands. Do you have a preference? (One I noticed from Syrian pumpkin seeds made in Austria. Thought of you and your travels of course.)

      1. Hi Spree, I fell in love with pumpkin seed oil on our travels to Austria. I would recommend getting the one from the Styrian region of Austria. The one I use is La Tourangelle pumpkin seed oil that comes in a metal can.

    2. Hi Spree, I tend to agree with you…we do have similar tastes. I’m glad that you like the sounds of this salad…we really enjoyed it. Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate the compliment.

    1. Hi Chris, I grew to love pumpkin seed oil during our travels in Austria and Germany were it is used often…it is delicious. This was a very tasty salad. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Wendy, Actually, it isn’t a wilted salad although you could use a hot dressing and wilt the spinach if you wanted to. Feta would go well with this salad. You could also add a sliced meat of your choice as well. That is what is so great about salads…they are so versatile.

    1. Hi Paula, I love roasting vegetables of all kinds…it really enhances their flavors. I agree that this is a nice salad to enjoy no matter the season. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  29. What a perfect “warm” salad. I never would have thought to throw sauteed mushrooms into one! And of course anything with pumpkin is amazing. Yum, yum, yum, Karen!

    1. Thank you Ruth, for your nice compliment. I’m glad you like the salad. I thought the sautéed mushrooms, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds made a nice seasonal salad.

  30. OK, this was brilliant, Karen. Butternut squash croutons. Who would have thought of that in a million years? Thank you for sharing the idea!

    1. Hi Celia, I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed the pumpkin seed oil…it is so flavorful. Thanks for the link on your post…it is very much appreciated.

  31. OH this is SOOO my kind of salad! I have just added Pumpkin seed oil to my list to search for!!! I have been looking for a flavorful substitute to olive oil for while now (mild allergy to olives darn it!) and have been using walnut oil for dressings but not quite as flavor packed!

    1. Hi Carol, I don’t think you will have any problem finding the pumpkin seed oil in your area. It has a lot more flavor than walnut oil and I think you will enjoy it. I’m happy to know that you like the salad…it was really good.

      1. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s should both have it. Wish we had those markets in New Hampshire but at least I can visit the ones in Portland when we are in Maine.

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