Delicata squash is my very own winter squash hero, and it just might be yours too. Tender and easy to prep (no peeling!) with a sweet, nutty flavor that just melts in your your mouth, roasted delicata squash is an all-star fall veggie with endless uses. And use it you will in this easy but impressive delicata squash salad with creamy maple dressing.
Last week both of my children came down with hand, foot, and mouth. <<shudder>> It is THAT childhood illness that you wouldn’t wish upon any parent, in any situation, at any time. Evil, it is. The season of sick is upon us <<shudder again>> so I immediately redoubled our immunity boosting efforts to help ward off the mushroom cloud of germs that will slowly encapsulate our home from now until, oh, March.
The kids consumed endless smoothies, while Cam and I ate salads. Colorful salads with aaaaaaaaall of the vitamins and antioxidants. Like this eat-the-rainbow roasted delicata squash salad.
It’s filling. It’s vibrant. It’s easy. It’s delicious. And it’s jam-packed with immune-boosting Vitamins A and C. Cold and flu season – this is how we do it folks!
>>> Pin it now! Click here to save this delicata squash salad to your gluten free recipes board on Pinterest.
How to Make Delicata Squash Salad
If you find most winter squash varietals to be difficult to work with, you will discover a hero in tender delicata squash. The skin is soft and edible, and the seeds easily scoop from the flesh, making it a superior squash for busy weeknights when you just cannot bother with tedious prep work. Roasted delicata squash is sweet, nutty, and impressively versatile. It shines in this seasonal fall salad recipe tossed with quinoa, vegetables, and pepitas, then drizzled with a sweet and creamy maple vinaigrette.
Since you’ll be eating both the flesh and skin, treat delicata squash like you would any other vegetable – AKA, wash it first. Once it’s nice and clean, trim the ends, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Then place the squash cut-side down on the cutting board and slice into 1/2″ thick pieces. Both the skin and flesh are soft, so you shouldn’t meet too much resistance, but make sure your knife is sharp for the sake of safety.
Place the squash slices into a mixing bowl and toss with a little olive oil. I use my (clean) hands to toss to ensure every nook and cranny is coated. Then spread the squash onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the squash in a 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Remove the baking sheet from the oven halfway through and flip over each piece of squash so that each side gets proper caramelization (and flavor!!).
While the squash is roasting, prepare the dressing and salad base. This creamy maple dressing is a dump-style recipe. I know, that sounds super weird, but what it really means is that it’s super easy. You’ll literally dump all of the ingredients into a bowl/pitcher/glass jar and whisk until smooth and incorporated. As always, taste for seasoning and add a little more of this (maple syrup for sweet) or that (rice vinegar for acid) until the flavor pops.
In a large salad or mixing bowl, toss together some arugula, cooked quinoa, super thinly sliced red onion, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas. I usually have a stash of cooked quinoa in the fridge for such occasions, but if you don’t (it’s cool), the recipe card includes instructions for preparing it.
Pour half the dressing over the salad to start. Go easy, you can always add more later. Plus you’ll def want to drizzle some over the cooked squash because that combo is SUPER TASTY TIMES.
Once the squash is finished roasting, portion the salad base onto some plates, top with the roasted delicata squash, drizzle with a little more dressing, and soak up all the healthy and cozy fall feels.
Dietary Accommodations and Variations
- Naturally vegetarian and gluten free
- If you believe as I do that most culinary situations can be improved by the addition of cheese, add a bit of parmesan or goat cheese.
- Make it easier: meal prep quinoa in advance over the weekend. I like to batch cook 2 cups dry quinoa on Sundays in my rice cooker (SO EASY) and store in the fridge for tossing into this and that all week.
- Make it vegan: use coconut yogurt in the maple dressing.
- Add more protein: slap an egg on it. Poached = perfection.
More Fall Salad Recipes
You’ll probably also dig these fall salads featuring powerhouse seasonal produce:
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Turmeric and Tahini
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- Warm Mushroom Salad with Potato and Wilted Greens
- Kale Chicken Salad with Apples and Warm Potatoes
- Arugula Pear Salad with Pistachios and Pomegranate
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Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Maple DressingPrint Recipe Rate This Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 delicata squash, rinsed, halved, seeds, and sliced into 1/2" half moons
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 c dry quinoa, or 1-1.5 c cooked
- 1 c water or broth
- 4 c arugula
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 c roasted salted pepitas
- 1/3 c pomegranate seeds
Creamy Maple Dressing
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 1/4 c greek yogurt
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Rinse the delicata squash. Trim the ends, the slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds using a spoon or melon baller. Slice the squash halves into 1/2" thick half moons.
- Place the sliced squash into a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss until each piece of squash is evenly coated with olive oil.
- Place the squash onto the prepare baking sheet. Spread the pieces evenly so that none are touching, ensuring each piece is laying flat.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the squash for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip over each piece of squash using tongs or a fork, and return to the oven. Roast an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces, until the flesh is soft and charred.
- Place the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and rinse throughly under cool running water. Place the rinsed quinoa into a small sauce pot along with the water or broth and a pinch of salt. Heat over medium high heat until the water boils, the reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Keep the quinoa covered and rest for an additional 5 minutes.
- Make the maple dressing. Place the olive oil, greek yogurt, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and salt into a bowl and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
- Place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the arugula, red onion, pepitas, and pomegranate seeds. Pour half the dressing over the salad base and toss until thoroughly combined.
- Dive the quinoa and arugula salad base between four salad plates. Top with one quarter of the delicata squash and serve with additional dressing on the side. Serve immediately.
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