Green Bean and Butternut Squash Pasta Salad is a delicious Fall comfort food filled with nuts and dried fruit (toasted pecans and dried cranberries). The Autumn-style homemade salad dressing combines just 4 ingredients: olive oil, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and lime juice. This meatless Thanksgiving green bean side dish is bursting with Fall flavors and will make a great addition to your holiday menu. It's dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free-friendly.
Thanksgiving green beans
If you're looking for interesting and unique ways to serve green beans during this holiday season (as an alternative to the regular green bean casserole), give a test run to this green bean pasta salad with butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries. This simple and colorful side dish is a delicious way to add colors and vibrancy to your menu for the holidays and for any weeknight dinner! If you enjoy festive holiday salads, you will also love these 2 side dishes:
- Roasted sweet potato salad with spinach, apples, dried cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and feta cheese
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries
Why you'll love it
- A healthier and tastier alternative to the regular green bean casserole. This green bean pasta salad is packed with fresh, nutritious vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit. The green beans in this recipe are briefly cooked in boiling water and are crunchy, crispy, and bright green in color.
- Nutrition-wise, this crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving side dish is meatless, dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free-friendly. Use gluten-free pasta to make it gluten-free. Green beans, butternut squash, and pecans are packed with nutrients and fiber.
- Green beans in this recipe are briefly boiled in a pot of hot water, drained, and quickly rinsed with cold water. This helps them to retain their shape and not fall apart. It also keeps them slightly crunchy and prevents them from getting mushy.
- Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as several minerals, including magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Butternut squash is also rich in dietary fiber. It also adds a wonderful orange color to this holiday Autumn side dish.
- Bow Tie Pasta. This recipe uses an Italian pasta, called Farfalle, or bow tie pasta. The bow-tie shape of this pasta works very well with the cubed butternut squash. Cook bow-tie pasta al dente for the best texture.
- Pecans are packed with fiber and are rich in many nutrients. This includes zinc and Vitamin B1. These delicious nuts add crunch and texture to green bean pasta salad. I like to toast them in the oven before adding them to this side dish.
- Dried cranberries add sweetness. I used Craisins. You can also use dried figs, blueberries, or cherries.
The Autumn-style homemade salad dressing combines together just 4 ingredients: olive oil, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and lime juice. Add those to a glass mason jar and whisk with the fork. It's a perfect dressing for the Thanksgiving green beans!
Substitutions and variations
- Green beans can be replaced with broccoli, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts.
- Butternut squash can be replaced with sweet potatoes.
- Nuts. Use walnuts, sliced almonds, or cashews. Make sure to lightly toast the nuts for the best flavor. You can also omit the nuts altogether!
- Seeds. Use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead of nuts if you like. I also prefer to lightly toast them before adding them to the green beans.
- Cranberries. You can use dried cherries, raisins, or chopped dried figs instead of dried cranberries.
How to cook green beans
- Boil. If you like softer green beans, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and green beans, and boil them (on medium heat) for 5 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse them under cold water. This will prevent them from getting mushy and will keep them crunchy.
- Blanch. If you prefer crunchier green beans, bring a large pot of water to boil, and boil green beans for about 1 or 2 minutes until a little tender but still crunchy. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water.
- I don't recommend roasting them in the oven for this recipe. Roasting the green beans strips them of the bright green color that you get if you use the 2 methods above.
Serve it hot or cold?
This dish is best served immediately, warm, or at room temperature. Just not refrigerator cold.
How to make it gluten-free
To make it gluten-free, all you have to do is use your favorite gluten-free pasta. All other ingredients are naturally gluten-free. I recommend using short-cut pasta, such as bow-tie, penne, rigatoni, fusilli, etc. This is a great recipe for using fiber-packed kind of pasta, such as gluten-free lentil or chickpea pasta.
What types of main dishes pair with green beans
Green bean pasta salad will be a great sidekick for Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, prime rib, beef tenderloin, and other favorite holiday main dishes.
- Refrigerate the leftover green bean pasta salad with butternut squash in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For best results, don't mix the pecans with the salad, and add them only right before serving to prevent them from getting soggy.
- I do not recommend freezing this dish.
Other green bean recipes you might like
- Green Beans with Pine Nuts and Parmesan Cheese
- Garlic and Bacon Green Beans Sautéed in Olive Oil and Butter
- Garlic Green Beans with Olive Oil and Parmesan
Green Bean Pasta Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries
Roasted butternut squash
How to roast butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange butternut squash in a single layer (without overcrowding) on the baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until softened.
- Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the butternut squash is in the oven.
Cook pasta and green beans
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
- Add green beans during the last 3 or 5 minutes and boil (together with pasta) for about 3 minutes if you like them crispy or 5 minutes if you like them softer and tender.
- Drain and immediately rinse green beans and pasta under cold water. Drain again. This way, the pasta doesn't get mushy and stays al dente, and the green beans are nice and crispy.
How to toast pecans
- Toast pecan halves for about 5 minutes (maybe a bit longer) in the oven at 350 F until they get darker. Chop up half of the pecans.
- Note: pecans burn fast, so check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterward.
Make salad dressing
- Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Whisk well with a fork until emulsified. Add more lime juice to taste.
- Combine cooked pasta, green beans, roasted butternut squash, and cranberries in a large serving bowl.
- Add the dressing (just enough; you don't have to use all of it). Toss to combine.
- When serving, top with toasted pecan halves (some finely chopped) and fresh thyme (leaves only, no sprigs). You can also drizzle the remaining salad dressing over the top of the salad if desired.
- Roast butternut squash. Many stores sell precut cubed butternut squash when it's in season. That's what I used in this recipe, saving me a ton of time! Roast it in the oven per recipe instructions and refrigerate it for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Cook pasta and green beans. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again.
- Toast pecans in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes. This is especially recommended for raw nuts. But even if you bought already roasted or flavored seeds or nuts, freshen them up by toasting them for about 5 or 10 minutes. Once the nuts are cooled, keep them in small sandwich bags until ready to use.
- Make salad dressing and refrigerate it in a mason jar with the lid for up to 7 days.
- Assemble the green bean pasta salad right before serving.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.