The holiday season is reserved for a well-deserved period of indulgence. This Southwest Delicata Squash Salad breaks up the richness associated with November and December but is still so satisfying. There are hundreds of recipes for delicata squash all over the internet, but this one is made special with a southwest twist.
We roast the delicata half-moons in maple syrup, hot sauce, and southwest spices. Pumpkin seeds are tossed in the same seasoning and toasted alongside the squash to give the salad a crunch. The star is the creamy jalapeno dressing, made with pickled jalapenos for a mild kick, that coats the veggies and compliments the spices of the squash. Finished with cotija cheese and pomegranate seeds, it’s the perfect hearty fall dinner salad.
This is satisfying as is but would be a great vehicle for leftover turkey after Thanksgiving or shredded chicken.
Need a special salad to take to a Thanksgiving dinner? This Southwest Delicata Squash Salad could be great there, too. And you’ll have extra jalapeno dressing — a stellar spread on a leftover turkey sandwich!
Southwest Delicata Salad with Creamy Jalapeño Dressing
FOR THE SQUASH
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. hot sauce - I used Siete Food’s Chipotle Hot Sauce
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 small/medium delicata squash - halved lengthwise seeds removed and cut into ¼” thick half moons
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
FOR THE RED ONIONS:
- ¼ red onion - thinly sliced about ½ cup
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
FOR THE CREAMY JALAPEÑO DRESSING:
- 2 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
- ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos - drained
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro - plus more for garnish
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp. Cracked black pepper
- ¾ cup homemade mayo - or sub for store bought avocado oil mayo
FOR THE SALAD:
- 6 cups deribbed and shredded kale
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- 3 oz. crumbled cotija cheese
- 1 medium avocado - sliced
- Preheat oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, maple syrup, hot sauce, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. Add in the delicata, and toss well to combine, ensuring they are all well-coated. Distribute half of the squash on each prepared baking sheet to ensure they have enough space to get golden.
- Add the pumpkin seeds to the now empty bowl and toss them around to coat in any excess seasoning leftover from the squash. Set aside.
- Transfer the trays to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Give them a shake at the 15-minute mark, rotate the trays, and roast for an additional 10 minutes. After 25 total minutes, remove one of the trays, push the squash to one side, and add the spiced pumpkin seeds. Transfer back into the oven and roast for 5 more minutes. Set the trays aside.
- While the squash is roasting, pickle the onions and make your dressing.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the onions and the red wine vinegar. Toss and set aside. They’ll pickle a bit while you prepare the rest.
- In a wide mouth mason jar, add all the ingredients for the jalapeno dressing. Place the head of an immersion blender in the bottom of the jar. Slowly blend, pulling the blender up and down to ensure the dressing is smooth. Blend until you have a smooth and creamy dressing. It will be a pale green and resemble the texture of ranch.
- To assemble, add the kale and cabbage to the bowl with the pickled onion. Add a pinch of salt, and using tongs, massage the greens a bit to break down the fibers. Add the dressing in tablespoon increments, tossing as you go, until your greens are lightly dressed. Add in half of the roasted squash, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, and cotija. Gently toss to combine. Transfer the salad to a large serving tray. Arrange the remaining squash atop the salad, and garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds, cotija, and avocado. Serve and Enjoy!