Roasted Delicata Squash and Kale Salad with Crispy Walnut-Parmesan Breadcrumbs and Creamy Peppercorn Dressing. This hearty roasted squash salad is filled with fall flavors and can double as an entree or side dish!
This is the definition of a salad that satisfies. Between its range of lively flavors and textures, it feels special enough to grace a holiday table this season.
Of all the winter squash varieties, delicata, with its oblong shape and beautiful green striations, is the easiest to work with. Nicknamed the “sweet potato squash,” it has a sweet, velvety flesh that caramelizes beautifully in the oven.
It's so low maintenance that it doesn't even require peeling.
I love tossing the squash in a chili-maple mixture for a sweet-spicy contrast. The texture and sweetness pari beautifully with fibrous kale, however you could also use arugula in this salad.
I especially love the Parmesan-Peppercorn dressing in this recipe. It's rich and nutty with a good dose of umami from the Parmesan.
How to Make Roasted Squash Salad
This salad pairs well with an array of entrees or protein.
It feels special enough for the holidays, yet is also weeknight-friendly.
You can serve it as an entree with the addition of your protein of choice (shredded chicken, salmon, or chickpeas). Or, serve it alongside a pot roast, meatloaf, or your favorite holiday main.
- Delicata Squash: Delicata squash is much smaller than most winter squash varieties. It also tends to have a richer flavor and creamier consistency. The best time to cook it and enjoy it is early fall - perfect timing for this salad!
- Kale: The beauty of kale is that it can be dressed ahead of time and still stay crisp. This is ideal if you're preparing the salad in advance.
- Red Onion: Red onion roasts alongside the delicata squash for an aromatic addition to the salad.
- Spices: A mix of chili powder and garlic powder season the squash. You can also toss in some paprika and/or cumin.
- Maple Syrup: The sweetness helps balances the chili powder in the squash mixture.
- Walnuts: A fantastic source of omega-3 fats, walnuts add richness and crunch.
- Panko: Toasted panko takes the place of croutons, adding crunch and texture to each bite.
- Parmesan: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano has a sharp, complex flavor that elevates the dressing.
- Pepper: Freshly cracked peppercorns (black or mixed) add a hint of spice to the dressing.
- Mayonnaise: I prefer avocado oil mayo, such as Sir Kensington's brand. Alternatively, use full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Lemon: For a punch of brightness and acidity.
Step 1: Season Squash and Red Onion
Slice delicata squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut the halves again lengthwise to create four segments.
Slice each segment into ½-inch thick pieces.
Combine squash, onion, olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, spices, and salt in a large bowl; toss well to coat.
Step 2: Roast Vegetables
Arrange veggies on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes, tossing halfway through.
Step 3: Prepare Parmesan-Peppercorn Dressing
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, black pepper, and salt. Gradually stream in olive oil, while whisking constantly. Stir in Parmesan and set aside.
Step 4: Toast Walnut-Parmesan Breadcrumbs
Spread walnuts, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil.
During the final 10 minutes of the veggie roasting, place pan in the oven. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning, and shaking the pan every few minutes, until nicely golden.
Step 5: Assemble Salad
Place kale in a large bowl along with half of the dressing. Massage the dressing into kale leaves for about 30 seconds until the greens are soft.
Top with squash and red onion, along with half of the breadcrumb mixture; toss to combine. Spoon remaining dressing overtop, and garnish with remaining breadcrumbs.
Expert Tips for Cooking Delicata Squash
One of my favorite things about delicata squash is how easy it is to prepare. Plus, this roasting method only takes about 35 minutes.
- Cut the Squash: Because you can eat the skin, there’s no need to peel the squash before you chop it. Start by slicing it in half lengthwise. Then, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy flesh.
- Season the Squash: This is where the versatility lies. Delicata squash pairs well with just about any spice combo. I love using a mix of sweet and spicy flavor agents, such as maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika.
- Roast the Delicata Squash: Once the squash is oiled and seasoned, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet, avoiding any overlap. Roast the squash at 425ºF for 35 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- Roasted Turkey or Chicken: The perfect Thanksgiving side dish to cut through the richness of the usual casserole contenders.
- Vegan Meatloaf: For plant-based diners, this salad is a wonderful compliment to my famous vegan meatloaf recipe.
- Pasta: For freshness and crunch, enjoy alongside a bowl of Creamy Red Pepper Pasta or Chicken Florentine Pasta.
- Soup: You can't beat a soup + salad combo this time of year. Try my Pumpkin Red Lentil Soup for a fabulous fall duo.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
This salad is meant to be enjoyed warm-ish, so it's best fresh!
- Make-Ahead: The dressing can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Keep in a sealed jar or Tupperware container in the refrigerator.
- Store: Refrigerate salad for up to 3 days. The breadcrumbs will lose their crisp, however the overall flavor will remain sharp. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before eating to let the squash come closer to room temperature.
More Fall Salad Recipes to Try
Butternut Squash Salad with Poblano and Feta
Thai Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad
Autumn Delicata Squash Salad
If you give this recipe a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Roasted Squash and Kale Salad with Creamy Peppercorn Dressing
- Rimmed baking sheets
- Mixing bowls
- 2 small-medium delicata squashes (about 1.25 lbs total)
- ½ red onion, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 2 tsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- ¾ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 bunch green curly kale, stemmed and chopped
- 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.Slice delicata squash in half lengthwise; scoop out (and discard) seeds. Slice the halves again lengthwise to create four segments. Slice each segment into ½-inch thick pieces.
- Combine squash, red onion, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, chili powder, garlic powder, and ½ tsp. salt in a large bowl; toss well to coat.Empty out onto a rimmed baking sheet and arrange veggies so that there is no overlap. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
- While veggies roast, prepare Parmesan-Peppercorn dressing. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, black pepper, and salt. Gradually stream in olive oil, while whisking constantly, until combined. Stir in Parmesan and set aside.
- Prepare crunchy walnut topping by spreading walnuts, ¼ cup Parmesan, and breadcrumbs out on a smaller rimmed baking sheet. Toss with remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil. During the final 10 minutes of the veggies roasting, place pan in the oven. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning, and shaking the pan every few minutes, until golden brown and toasted.
- Place kale in a large bowl along with half of the dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into kale leaves for about 30 seconds until the greens soften. Let roasted veggies cool for about 10 minutes before adding to the bowl. Add half of the walnut mixture; toss to combine. Spoon remaining dressing overtop, and garnish with remaining walnut-breadcrumb mixture.
This salad was delicious! A big hit with my husband as well.
I couldn't find Delicata squash so I used acorn squash instead. Another wonderful recipe!!
This was absolutely delicious! I love the flavors of roasted squash and caramelized onion as well the textures of the nuts/panko/parm topping. The dressing had the perfect amount of acid and creaminess to balance the other savory ingredients. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!
Beautiful salad!!! The dressing is fantastic. Next time I will add quinoa to make it a full meal. Bravo!
Hi Margaret - I'm so glad the recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a review!
Phenomenal salad!!! Loved the dressing!!
Just made this and it was sensational. I couldn't find delicata squash anywhere so I subbed in acorn squash (I had never tried either before - are they similar?) and it turned out soooo good. I loved all of the textures: crispy, creamy, crunchy. You knocked this one out of the park! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Michal! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
This salad is perfection. I made it for dinner the other night, and the flavors were incredible. The crunchy walnut-pamesan topping took it over the top. I used a blend.of.kale, baby lettuce and spinach, and added some chopped green apple, too. This will be a permanent part of my salad rotation - A+ recipe!
Hi Courtney - I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it!! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving such a glowing review!
Loved this recipe and is now my favorite fall salad! I substituted Vegginaise for the mayo and I used pecans instead of walnuts. So yummy!!!
Hi Mimi - I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it!! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a rating and review!