Now that the weather has finally turned here – it’s cool and rainy in Los Angeles – I’ve decided to make this delicata squash and spinach salad. It’s an easy, fall salad which features warm, caramelized delicata squash, baby spinach, dried cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese. The salad is tossed with a red wine vinaigrette that has a touch of honey.
Delicata squash is a flavorful, orange, winter squash that has a creamy, rich texture. Where as most winter squashes are difficult to prepare – a delicata squash couldn’t be easier – no peeling necessary and it’s easy to cut up. It only takes 20 minutes to roast in the oven – caramelizing to a lovely golden brown. While it’s roasting you prep your other ingredients and can have this salad put together in under 30 minutes.
To prep the delicata squash all you need to do is wash it well, chop the ends off, stand it on one end and split it down the middle – no peeling necessary. Next scoop out the seeds and then slice it into even slices – about 1/2 inch thick. Toss the slices with a little olive oil, ground black pepper and a pinch of salt and put it on a baking sheet – spread the slices out evenly so that they aren’t overlapping. Roast it in the oven for 20 minutes – flipping the squash after 10 minutes so each side caramelizes equally.
The caramelized squash pairs well with fresh baby spinach, tart dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts and salty feta. This is a warm, filling salad featuring fall ingredients at their best. Add a glass of merlot and a little french bread and you’ve got an easy, healthy dinner. Enjoy.
A couple of notes:
While roasting the squash, you’ll need to turn/flip it halfway through the roasting process and the squash will be very soft – so use tongs to gently hold and turn them.
The squash is very soft and delicate once it’s cooked. So I tossed the salad with 2/3 of the dressing before adding the squash. Then I drizzled the remaining dressing over the cooked squash and gently added it to the salad.
If you can’t find delicata squash, butternut squash would be a good substitute. Butternut squash takes a little longer to roast – about 25 to 30 minutes.
|Delicata Squash and Spinach Salad|| |
- 1 delicata squash
- ½ bag of baby spinach - about 5 oz
- ⅓ cup of dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup of walnut pieces
- 2 tbs red onion
- 2 oz feta cheese
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 8 twists of black pepper
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse delicata squash well. Chop off ends of squash then split squash down the middle. Scoop out seeds and slice squash into ½ inch slices.
- Toss delicata squash with 1 tbs olive oil and a few twists of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Place on a baking sheet and even spread out the squash so it does not overlap.
- Bake the squash for 20 minutes in the oven. After 10 minutes - take the squash out and flip the slices so they will be evenly browned on each side - but the pan back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
- While the squash is cooking, wash spinach and add to a bowl.
- Add cranberries and walnuts to the bowl of spinach.
- Mince red onion and dice feta cheese. Add red onion to the bowl of spinach.
- Whisk together the remaining 3 tbs of olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper. Pour ¾ over spinach salad and toss to combine. Add diced feta cheese and toss gently to combine.
- Drizzle remaining dressing over squash slices (once they are out of the oven). Add squash to salad and toss very gently. I kept a couple of slices aside and then added to the top of the salad for presentation.