Although Monday morning greeted us with a mini blizzard this week, it's still very much fall and I'm clinging to pumpkin spice as long as I can. However, between all the apple cider (or cider donuts!), pumpkin desserts, and Halloween candy, I'm left craving some lighter fare that will still feel warm and cozy. That can be a challenge since salads and smoothies are traditionally so...cold. Bringing a salad from blah to bomb is all about better toppings and the dressing. A basic (and cold!) salad can become a meal with some perfectly-seasoned grilled tofu or some roasted veggies, and a flavorful dressing. This fall salad is topped with warm roasted acorn squash, sweet sliced pears, toasted squash seeds, and dried cranberries, then drizzled with a homemade maple mustard dressing.
It is uncharacteristic of me to make a salad recipe, or a salad where all of the ingredients seemingly go together. When I'm at a salad bar, or making one at home, I'll load it up with everything that sounds tasty, regardless of whether those ingredients go together. Maybe a salad topped with olives, cucumbers, onion, pickles, sunflower seeds, meatless meatballs, leftover rice, and chickpeas? Then toss in some strawberries and giardiniera and mix a couple of dressings? Sure! Now that I've presented my Salad Credibility™, let me tell you about this roasted squash and pear fall salad...
Prepping the acorn squash
The acorn squash is partially peeled, sliced into rings, coated with a garlic and herb spice blend, and then roasted until caramelized perfection. Acorn squash skin is edible, so don't worry about peeling it completely. I used "the whole vegetable" and roasted the squash seeds to use as a salad topper, but if you're short on time, you can use store bought pumpkin seeds or a nut like pecans.
Maple Mustard Dressing
The salad is rounded out with some sliced red pears, thinly-sliced red onions, dried cranberries, and our squash/pumpkin seeds. The dressing recipe is a variation on a dressing that I've made over the years. The base is olive oil and apple cider vinegar, then it's flavored with maple syrup, mustard, soy sauce, and garlic. It's sweet and savory, and just a little tangy. Since I've never actually measured out the ingredients when making the dressing before, it's always a little different.
Get the recipe:
- 1 acorn squash, large, or other favorite squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sage, dried
- ½ teaspoon thyme, dried
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
Toasted squash seeds:
- ½ cup squash seeds, or pumpkin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
Maple mustard dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it
- 1 tablespoon mustard, dijon
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 5 ounces spring mix, 1 small tub
- 2 pears, sliced
- ½ red onion, small
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- ¼ cup cranberries, dried
For the roasted squash:
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Wash and peel the acorn squash. The skin of an acorn squash is edible, so you don't have to peel it all the way.
- Slice the squash into rings. Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.
- Place the squash in a bowl and toss with the olive oil.
- Sprinkle the sage, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on the squash and stir to coat.
- Lay the squash out on the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.
For the squash seeds:
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with oil.
- Wash and dry the squash seeds, then spread out evenly on the baking sheet.
- Even sprinkle the seeds with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fragrant and crunchy. Remove from heat.
For the dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a bottle and stir or shake to combine.
- Taste and adjust flavors if desired.
To assemble the salad:
- Divide the spring mix between 2-4 plates, depending on whether you're making the salads as a main course or side.
- Top each salad with roasted squash, pears, red onions, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries.
- Drizzle the dressing atop each salad or serve on the side.
- The recipe makes 2 "dinner" salads or 4 side salads.
- If you're short on time, you can skip toasting your own squash seeds and use pre-packaged pumpkin seeds, pecans, or walnuts.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 748Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 950mgCarbohydrates: 116gFiber: 23gSugar: 55gProtein: 15g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on seitanbeatsyourmeat.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.
This salad is a great way to use up the decorative squashes hanging around your kitchen. Or for something different than eating roasted root vegetables on the side of your main course. If you'd like to make the salad heartier, you could marinate some tofu in the dressing and pan fry it right before serving for a complete meal. It's also great on the Thanksgiving table!