This tasty acorn squash salad features all the best fall flavors in a healthy forward dish. The salad is sweet, savory, warm, tangy, and great for a filling fall meal.
Bring all of the best flavors of fall right to your plate with this healthy acorn squash salad.
This fall salad has layers and layers of flavor. Roasted acorn squash sits on top of a bed of spinach and kale with toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds. It’s a warm salad you can serve as a side dish or make it the main course of the meal.
The warm and earthy salad is gluten-free and features a homemade salad dressing that is better than anything you could get in the store. I love to double the recipe for the salad dressing and keep some extra in my fridge for later use.
When you are looking for a hearty salad that is full of earthy and warm flavors, look no further than this acorn squash salad.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Layers of Flavor. The roasted acorn squash develops a super layered flavor profile while it roasts in the oven. Combine that earthy squash with the bright pomegranates and the nutty pecans for a full party of flavors.
- Versatile. If you don’t like an ingredient in the recipe, no need to worry! This simple recipe allows for creativity and swaps if you don’t like or prefer something else.
- Light on the Wallet. Don’t worry about breaking the bank when it comes to this recipe. A big acorn squash is worth every single penny and really goes a long way.
- Easy to Prepare. If you are new to acorn squash, don’t get intimidated. The squash is very easy to prepare and hard to mess up once it is in the oven.
How To Make Acorn Squash Salad
Preparing a salad is a simple task, even for those who don’t always feel comfortable in the kitchen. You’ll find all the details for every step of the way and the full instructions below.
- Acorn Squash. Acorn squash slices roast with a drizzle of olive oil at high heat to make the base for the salad. The vegetable is meaty and provides an almost protein-like filling for the main meal.
- Pecans. A slightly toasted pecan adds a nice nuttiness to the end product.
- Pomegranates. The tiny seeds look to add brightness and zest to the salad.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. The main base for the salad dressing adds a nice bright and tangy flavor.
- Spinach and Kale. This recipe uses a mix of spinach and kale for the base of the salad.
- Prepare the Squash. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). While the oven is preheating, cut the acorn squash into 1/2-inch thick crescents. Toss the acorn squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Line the acorn squash crescents on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven. Let the squash pieces cook for about 15 minutes on one side before flipping with a spatula. The squash should take about 30 minutes to get tender and slightly caramelized. When they are ready to go, set them to the side and allow them to cool to room temperature.
- Toast the Pecans. Using a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pecans. Stir them occasionally until they are fragrant and slightly brown in color. They should cook for 3-5 minutes before they are fully toasted. Skip this step if using store-bought roasted pecans.
- Make the Salad Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, or maple syrup. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking the mixture together to create an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to season the salad dressing.
- Toss the Salad. In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach, kale, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pecans. Gently mix the ingredients until everything is distributed smoothly. Add the roasted acorn squash to the mixture or directly onto the plate before serving. Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad just before serving.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Add in Protein. If you want to make this salad extra filling, throw in some protein like chicken or tofu. The simple protein will seamlessly flow with the rest of the salad to make a meal that is filling and hearty.
- Personalize the Salad. Don’t like kale? Maybe squash isn’t your thing? Not to worry. Use salad ingredients that you would prefer to make this salad your own. Swap in sweet potatoes for the squash or butter lettuce for the spinach and kale.
- Sharpen Your Knife. Acorn squash can sometimes be tricky to cut open. Make sure your knife is extra sharp to cut through the layer of tough skin.
- High Heat. To get that perfectly tender squash, make sure that your oven is at a high heat. The high heat will roast the fall vegetable and give it that perfect caramelization.
Make-Ahead & Storage Recommendations
This acorn squash salad is great for meal prepping and making ahead of time. The key to keeping the salad fresh before the meal is to keep all of the ingredients away from each other. Simply prep everything that goes into the recipe, but wait until you are ready to serve the salad to combine it all. That way, the salad will stay fresh and not get soggy.
Once the salad is dressed, it will be hard to keep any leftovers as they will get soggy. If you have leftover ingredients, wait until you can toss the salad so it is fresh. Keep all of the vegetables and ingredients in the fridge until ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you remove the skin from an acorn squash before cooking?
- There is no need to peel an acorn squash before cooking it! The skin is edible and adds a nice layer of texture to the squash. You’ll need to roast the squash a little longer in the oven to make sure the skin is nice and tender.
How do you soften an acorn squash before you cut it?
- If you are having trouble getting your knife through the acorn squash, there is no need to panic. Place the acorn squash in the microwave for three minutes to soften up the vegetable. Once it is done, the knife should be much easier to insert and go through smoothly to make the small crescent pieces.
What pairs well with this Acorn Squash Salad?
- If you are serving this salad as a side dish, there are so many options to serve as a main course alongside it. Our favorites include Lemon Dill Chicken and Seared Wild Salmon.
Try These Other Salads That Are Perfect For The Fall
- Warm Lentil and Tomato Salad – Warm lentils pair with cooling tomatoes for a full burst of flavor.
- Fall Garden Salad with Apples and Walnuts – Fall flavors layer with apples and walnuts in this seasonal salad.
- Roasted Beet Salad with Greens and Candied Pecans – A playful salad that is sweet, savory, and slightly earthy.
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad
- baking sheet
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups baby kale
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup pecans toasted
- Olive oil for roasting
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese optional
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup adjust to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice it into 1/2-inch thick crescents. Toss the acorn squash slices with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment and roast for 15 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and flip with a spatula, then return to the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes. Once done, set them to the side and allow to cool.
- If you’re using store bought roasted pecans, you can skip this step. If you’re starting with raw pecans, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and slightly browned. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey or maple syrup.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuously whisking to emulsify the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, baby kale, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pecans. Toss gently to combine and put the salad on your serving plates. Place an even number of slices of roasted acorn squash on top of each salad.
- Drizzle the apple cider vinegar dressing over the salad just before serving. Toss to coat the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately and enjoy!