Fall salads are a welcome addition to our dinner table this time of year. In this salad, I topped MIND diet-friendly power greens with savory, roasted delicata squash and roasted pears to add some heartiness and richness to this salad. Then I tossed it off with a cinnamon balsamic dressing.
This salad is designed for 2 people, but it can easily be doubled, or tripled!
What You Will Need to Make this Delicata Squash and Pear Salad
This easy salad has 3 main ingredients with a couple of accompaniments for a little crunch. It’s topped with a homemade cinnamon balsamic vinaigrette, but you can use any balsamic vinaigrette you have on hand.
These leafy greens are a blend of baby spinach, kale, and baby chard. You can find either bags or clamshells of these baby leafy greens in most grocery stores.
Nutritionally, they are, as the name says, a powerhouse of nutrients. One serving has over 50% of your daily value for vitamins A, C, and K. They are a good source of potassium, iron, and calcium and powerful phytochemicals (yes, I said that word – chemical!) like lutein and zeaxanthin.
All these nutrients are important for brain health, which is why this salad fits the MIND diet so perfectly!
Delicata squash is one of my new favorite types of squash because it is so easy to prepare and cook. As the name implies, delicata squash is “delicate.” The skin is easy to cut and is edible. It’s not tough and overly fibrous like other types of squash.
Canned Pear Halves
I love adding canned pears to salads. I used pears packed in a light syrup (because it’s what I had on hand) but you could look for water packed and use those if you prefer. You could also use fresh pears, but the convenience of canned makes this super easy and the nutritional value is comparable.
If you’ve never roasted canned pears, you must try it! Roasting them brings out their natural sweetness but it also adds a savory note to them. Combined with the squash they tone down any bitterness from the greens.
Dried fruit adds a touch of sweetness and some extra fiber to a salad. This time of year I use a lot of dried cranberries. They complement the squash and roasted pears and add a bit of bulk to the salad.
In addition to the crunch these little seeds provide, they are also full of beneficial nutrients. They add fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. All important nutrients that help support our immune system, may play a role in reducing inflammation, and support our brain health.
Any balsamic vinaigrette dressing will do but I had a little bottle of cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar that a friend gave me and decided it would be perfect for this salad. Combined with olive oil and some of the pear juice, it was just perfect.
If you just have balsamic vinegar and want to try to mimic this, add a little extra pear juice from the canned pears and a pinch of cinnamon as you whip up your dressing.
Follow the standard 3:1 ratio for vinaigrettes and use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. All that good EVOO will help you absorb the nutrients from the greens and squash!
How to Make the Salad
Step 1 – Roast the squash and pears
Preheat your oven to 425°.
Next, wash the squash and cut the top off.
Slice it in half, lengthwise, scoop the seeds out. An ice cream scoop or sturdy spoon makes quick work of this.
Slice each half into ½ – inch half rounds.
Toss the squash and the pear halves with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet.
Roast them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They should be tender and browned.
Step 2 – Make the Dressing
While the pears and squash are roasting, make the balsamic vinaigrette. Use the standard 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar but add some pear juice, salt, and pepper to the mix and whisk it until it is blended. You’ll need to whisk it quickly again before serving.
Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it well.
Step 3 – Assemble the salad
On a medium platter or 2 individual plates, add a cup or two of washed power greens. Top them with the squash rounds and sliced pear halves. Sprinkle with cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing and dive in!
While this salad is delicious just as it is, you could certainly make this with just baby spinach or a spinach and baby kale blend. The squash needs a heartier green to stand up to so I would stick to these deep, rich greens.
If you can’t find delicata squash, cubed and roasted butternut squash would work as well.
Any balsamic vinaigrette would be delicious with this. Just remember, a little goes a long way!
Can you eat the skin of delicata squash?
Yes, you can eat the skin. It is delicate and easily cuts with a knife and softens further once roasted. It adds a lot of fiber and nutrition so it is good to eat if you can.
How long does it take to cook delicata squash?
Delicata squash is small and the skin is thinner than other types of squash so it cooks fairly quickly. Roast it at 425°F and it should be tender, browned, and cooked through in about 20 minutes.
You can store the ingredients separately once cooked overnight and toss the salad together the next day.
The vinaigrette can be stored in a non-reactive container (like a mason jar or salad dressing carafe) for a couple of weeks in your refrigerator.
Other Recipes you will love
If you love hearty salads, or love squash or pears I have a few other recipes you might like! Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments.
If you try this recipe and love it, please rate it below to help other people find it! I appreciate your support!
Roasted Delicata Squash and Pear Salad
- 1 each delicata squash
- 4 halves canned pears (reserve pear juice)
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 cups power greens
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Cinnamon Balsamic Pear Dressing
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar cinnamon pear if available
- 1 tbsp reserved pear juice
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
Make the Salad
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wash the squash.
- Cut the top off the squash and then slice it in half lengthwise. Cut each half in 1/2 inch half rounds. Place them in a medium bowl. Add the pear halves and toss them with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
- Place the squash and the pears on a lined sheet pan and place it in the middle of the preheated oven. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, flipping the squash and pears part way through once they are browned on one side.
- Place the greens on a medium platter. Top with the roasted squash, pears, cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing.
Make the Salad Dressing
- Place olive oil in a bowl or glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Gradually whisk in the balsamic vinegar, pear juice, and salt and pepper. (or add them to the jar and cover tightly and shake well.