Autumn is here, like it or not. I am going with like it, because it is the perfect time for this beautiful autumn delicata squash and pear salad with a cider maple vinaigrette. This salad literally takes everything wonderful about autumn and slaps you in the face with it. It is the perfect mix of kale and greens, roasted delicata squash, fresh pears and pomegranates. Drizzle all of this wonderfulness with a light apple cider and maple dressing and OMG - you just stepped right into your favorite fall scene.
What is delicata squash?
So I had heard of this, and probably maybe eaten it, but I never bought it to use at home until last month...and now i am obsessed with it. Think butternut squash, only you don't have to peel it - YOU CAN LITERALLY EAT THE SKIN. Just slice in open lengthwise and scoop out the guts slice and roast. It couldn't possibly be any simpler. I am linking a squash guide here, in case you can't get your hand on delicata squash and/or would prefer to try another variety.
What type of pear should go in a salad?
This is an easy one...use whatever you want! I use Bosc pears most of the time. But I made this the other day with Bartlett pears because I had a bunch that nobody was eating. It is really up to you. I find that Bosc pears keep there shape and have a slightly crisper texture, but by no means is this set in stone. Use what you got...meaning if you have apples around use them instead or in addition to pears, be smart, it is a salad. We aren't performing transplant surgery here.
- Delicata squash. This is my favorite to roast and use in almost everything because you don't have to peel it. You can eat the skin after roasting. It is soft and delicious
- Pears. I prefer to use Bosc pears.
- Mixed greens. Sometimes I also use kale mixed in for extra oomph.
Ingredients for the cider maple vinaigrette
This dressing is everything you could ever expect in an autumn salad. It has a nice bite with the vinegar and the apple cider and maple syrup balance out the sweetness. Here's what you need:
- Apple cider vinegar. This cider maple vinaigrette has two vinegars, but if you only have one of the two, use all of that.
- Sherry vinegar. This is my all time favorite vinegar, but I also realize it may not be something everyone has, so if you don't have any, use all apple cider vinegar, or even red wine vinegar.
- Apple cider. Because after all, this is an autumn salad recipe
- Maple syrup. See above
- Olive oil
- A neutral oil, like vegetable or avocado
Can you use apple cider in a dressing?
Hell yes, my friends. This cider maple vinaigrette is fantastic. It provides a good bite from the mix of sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar (ACV). The cider and maple syrup balance it with a nice sweetness. If you don't have sherry vinegar use red wine vinegar or all ACV instead. Sherry vinegar is expensive. I always have some, but I am always careful to use it sparingly for special things like this (it is by far my fave vinegar ever).
I use two parts avocado oil or neutral vegetable oil to one part olive oil in almost all of my dressings. Only olive oil can be overwhelming. Another tip for dressing, make sure to salt it...even though the delicata squash is salted. Still salt the dressing. Balance guys.
And guys, play with this dressing, here is my post all about making your own vinaigrettes from scratch and how to nail it every single time, no matter what.
Tips for success
- Make sure the squash is properly cooled before assembling the salad. You don't want to wilt all your greens with hot squash.
- Slice the pears last. If you aren't planning on eating this immediately, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the sliced pears. This will prevent them from turning brown.
- A nice addition to this Autumn harvest roasted delicata squash and pear salad would be pomegranates. They have a lovely color and a mild sweet flavor.
- And I am not gonna lie, a few sourdough croutons in here are something I wouldn't say no to either.
For the salad
- 1 delicata squash cut lengthwise in half, guts scooped and thinly sliced
- 2 bosc pears fairly ripe (or use whatever pear you want)
- ½ cup kale finely chopped
- 2 cups mixed greens
- salt and pepper
For the cider maple dressing
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
To roast the delicata squash
- Heat oven to 400. Lay delicata squash on greased, lined with foil baking sheet and roast in oven about 10 - 15 minutes. This will depend on how thin you slice your squash. The thicker the peices, the longer it will take. You should be able to easily pierce with a forkk, that is how you will know it is finished. Remove from oven and cool off.
To make the dressing
- Whisk together apple cider, maple syrup, and both vinegars. Season with a little salt and pepper. While whisking, stream in the olive oil and the vegetable oil and whisk until fully incorporated. Give it a quick taste and adjust the salt and pepper seasoning (remember you can always add but never take away).
To assemble the salad
- Place greens and kale into serving dish, add your delicata squash. Now here is where you want to slice your pear. I say this because pears oxidize and turn brown (like apples), so to avoid this, cut your pears right at assmebly and eating time. So, slice pears and add to serving dish. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.