This Moroccan-inspired Butternut Squash and Poblano Salad with Feta is a total flavor fiesta. Gluten free, rich in key nutrients, and the perfect alchemy of sweetness and spice. Enjoy this butternut squash salad as a vegetarian main, or alongside your favorite protein.
Why You'll Love this Butternut Squash Salad
I love taking sweet winter squash for a ride on the savory side.
In this recipe, squash is roasted alongside earthy poblano pepper and served with corn, feta, and a harissa-lime dressing. Harissa and cumin add depth and heat to the squash, which spices up its inherent sweetness.
It's a delicious reminder of how well sweet and savory flavors play together in Moroccan cuisine.
A pumpkin seed topping adds satisfying crunch and heart-healthy fats, creating a satisfying, nutritious dish.
This salad is also make-ahead friendly, gluten free, and easy to make vegan by omitting the feta.
Basically, it's an absolute must-make for fall and winter cooking.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
- Butternut Squash: Nutty and naturally sweet, butternut squash is packed with immune-supportive beta carotene. You can either peel and cut a whole butternut squash, or go for convenience and buy squash already peeled and cubed for you. This time of year, you can often find pre-cubed squash in the produce section or most large grocery chains.
- Poblano Pepper: These earthy deep green peppers are mild in heat with peppery, smoky flavor. Cooking poblanos mellows them even more, making them slightly sweet.
- Corn: Since fresh corn is no longer in season, you can use canned or frozen here. I personally love the frozen fire-roasted corn from Trader Joe's for this salad.
- Feta: Every salad needs a jolt of salty, tangy goodness, in my opinion. Crumbled feta cheese is the perfect contender with its rich, creamy character. Alternatively, you can use goat cheese or queso fresco here.
- Mint: Fresh mint leaves steady the spice of the harissa, and add refreshing top notes to the salad. Alternatively, you can use fresh cilantro here.
- Harissa-Lime Dressing: A simple mix of harissa paste, lime juice, garlic, and olive oil make this sauce SING. I suggest looking for a mild harissa paste, such as Mina brand.
- Harissa is most commonly found ready-made in jars, tubes and cans. You can typically find it in the ethnic section of most well-stocked grocery stores.
Step 1: Roast the Butternut Squash
Start by preheating the oven to 425ºF. Spread the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, and toss with oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Bake the squash for 20 minutes.
Step 2: Add Poblano Pepper
Remove squash from the oven and gently toss. Add the poblano pepper to the same pan, along with a touch more oil, and toss to combine with the squash. Place the pan back in the oven, and bake for another 15 minutes, until the squash and poblano pepper are tender.
Step 3: Prepare Harissa-Lime Dressing
Prepare dressing by combining harissa paste, lime juice, grated garlic, salt, and olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk the dressing until combined.
Step 4: Toss Corn with Butternut Squash
Remove the squash and poblano pepper from the oven and add the corn to the pan. Gently toss with the squash and pepper to warm and season the corn.
Step 5: Assemble Salad
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter. Add the feta cheese, pepitas, and mint leaves, and gently toss to combine.
This salad pairs well with just about any protein, sandwich, or soup. Here are some of my favorites:
- Grilled Shrimp Skewers: Served with a creamy lemon-dill sauce, this is the perfect protein pairing.
- Honey-Harissa Baked Salmon: This flavor profile is a beautiful compliment to the salad.
- Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Soup: To complement the Moroccan flavors of the salad.
How to Make-Ahead, Store, and Reheat:
- Make-Ahead: This salad can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, however it's best to wait until right before serving to add the dressing and fresh mint. You can also prepare the dressing 2 to 3 days ahead.
- Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: This salad can be reheated either in the microwave or in a skillet. For the microwave, place the salad in a microwave-safe bowl or plate, and reheat until warm.
- For stovetop, transfer the salad to a lightly greased skillet and cook over medium until heated through.
More Butternut Squash Recipes to Try:
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love for you to come back and give it a rating and review. Also, be sure snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations.
Butternut Squash and Poblano Salad with Feta
- Rimmed baking sheet
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled and sliced into 1x1-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
- 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 poblano pepper seeded and sliced into 2-inch strips
- 1 Tbsp. mild harissa (such as Mina brand)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 grated garlic clove
- ¾ cup fresh, canned, or frozen/thawed corn
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh torn mint leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 2 Tbsp. of the oil, ½ tsp. salt, cumin, and black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven. Add poblano pepper to baking sheet, along with a touch more oil or cooking spray. Toss to combine with squash. Place back in the oven and bake for 15 more minutes, until both the squash and pepper are tender.
- While vegetables roast, prepare the Harissa-Lime dressing by combining harissa, lime juice, grated garlic, remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and 3 Tbsp. olive oil to small bowl. Stir with a whisk.
- Remove squash mixture from the oven, and add corn to baking sheet. Toss corn with squash and peppers to allow the residual heat and spices to warm and flavor the corn.Transfer mixture to a serving bowl or platter. Drizzle Harissa-Lime dressing overtop, and garnish with feta, pumpkin seeds, and fresh mint (if using). Add another squeeze of fresh lime juice right before serving, if desired.