This easy roasted acorn squash fall salad with apple cider vinaigrette has all the flavors of fall and is perfect for entertaining over the holidays. Sweet and spicy maple roasted acorn squash is tossed with mixed greens, creamy goat cheese, fresh pomegranate arils, and pecans for a flavorful harvest salad.
Drizzled with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette, this easy fall harvest salad can be served as a side dish to the main meal or top it with your favorite protein, like salmon or chicken! It comes together so quick and easy!
Here’s What You’ll Need
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- Mixed greens – you can use a combination of your favorite greens, massaged kale or even spinach in this recipe
- Acorn squash – I don’t peel the skin off of my squash, but you will want to make sure you slice the squash thin enough so that it cooks until tender and the skin is not tough.
- chef’s knife (I personally use this Shun 8″ chef’s knife)
- sheet pan
- fish spatula (highly recommend this for all sorts of things, like flipping acorn squash in this recipe!)
Why I love this recipe
While this salad does have a few steps, the active time is minimal and the steps are simple, I promise! It’s a great salad for the holidays.
The flavors are so good though, you may just want to make this fall salad for dinner and top it with your protein of choice! Salmon and chicken are favorites on top of this salad in our house!
What makes this recipe gluten-free?
This salad is easily made naturally gluten-free. Full of fresh fruits and vegetables, there are only a few things to consider if you’re on a gluten-free diet when making this fall harvest salad.
If you are using a store-bought dressing instead of making my apple cider vinaigrette, you’ll want to be sure to check the ingredients on the label to make sure your dressing is gluten-free. Sometimes gluten gets added as a thickener in salad dressings.
Always check labels of ingredients like pecans, goat cheese, etc. to see if they are processed on the same equipment as wheat.
Vegan and dairy-free options
Goat cheese – You can omit the goat cheese to make this recipe dairy-free and vegan. If you still want something creamy in your salad, try a vegan cheese or even sliced avocado.
Vinaigrette or Dressing – If you’re making my apple cider vinaigrette, you’ll want to swap the honey in the recipe with pure maple syrup to make it vegan.
How to make a fall salad with roasted acorn squash
Mix together the pure maple syrup, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Lay the sliced acorn squash in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Brush the sliced acorn squash with the syrup mixture. Roast in the oven at 400F for 35-40 minutes, flipping half way through.
To assemble the salad, mix together the mixed greens, roasted acorn squash, pecans, goat cheese, pomegranate arils, sliced red onion and dried cranberries. Drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette and toss to combine.
- For best results, slice your red onion very thin. There is nothing worse than getting a big chunk of red onion in your salad. Slicing them thinly gives you a bit of the flavor of red onion without the extreme harshness.
- Your acorn squash may cook quicker or slower than mine depending on how thick you slice your acorn squash. You want to make sure that it is very tender after cooking, including the skin. Adjust your time as necessary.
- You don’t have to toast your pecans, but I highly recommend it. It brings out the nutty flavor of the pecans and has the most wonderful aroma!
Yes! I’ve used spinach, massage kale, and arugula before in this recipe. Go with whatever you have or you prefer!
You sure can. Just omit the nuts from this recipe. If you want a little crunch, try some pumpkin seeds (if you can tolerate them).
I love this apple cider vinaigrette on this salad, but balsamic vinaigrette is another favorite. I think a creamy honey mustard could be good as well. A slightly tangy dressing is great in this recipe.
Yes, this fall salad is naturally gluten-free! If you’re using a store-bought dressing, be sure to check ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free.
This salad can easily be made both dairy-free and vegan by omitting the goat cheese. If you’re looking for something creamy, try an avocado in its place. To make the salad vegan, you’ll also need to swap out the honey for pure maple syrup in my apple cider vinaigrette recipe. It’s still delicious, I promise!
You can use delicata squash or butternut squash in this recipe if you’d like. Sometimes I like to do a mix of all of them for an extra tasty salad. Roasted sweet potato is also a great substitution if you have it on hand!
Cooking for the holidays? Try these other gluten-free recipes!
- 30 Recipes for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving – So many gluten-free recipes to choose from!
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Roasted garlic really amps up this traditional mashed potatoes recipe!
- Classic Gluten-Free Stuffing – A gluten-free take on the classic stuffing recipe!
- Red Wine Cranberry Sauce – Red wine gives this cranberry sauce extra flavor and depth.
- Apple Cider Moscow Mule – Every Thanksgiving needs an easy cocktail recipe! This one only has 4 ingredients!
- Grain-Free Mini Pecan Pie Cheesecakes – These mini cheesecakes have a pecan crust and are topped with pecan caramel sauce.
- Gluten Free Brined Turkey – You can’t have Thanksgiving without the turkey and this gluten-free brined turkey is so good!
- Vegan Mushroom Risotto make a great side for the holidays! So creamy and savory without any of the dairy!
- Gluten-Free Crescent Rolls are flaky, fluffy and so delicious. Nobody would ever know they are gluten-free!
- Chicken Leg Quarters are a great option for the holidays if you’re cooking for a smaller group and don’t want to make a full turkey or ham!
More Gluten-Free Salad Recipes
- Strawberry Brussels Sprout Kale Salad
- Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Farmer’s Market Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Acorn Squash Fall Salad with Pomegranate
- 2 medium acorn squash (halved and seeded (about 3 lbs))
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 cups mixed greens (roughly 10 oz)
- 1/2 red onion (sliced thin)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (toasted)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (arils from 1 pomegranate)
- 4 oz goat cheese (crumbled)
- Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette (or dressing of choice)
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the acorn squash around its middle horizontally. Scoop out seeds and scrape clean. Slice into ¾ inch thick rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Do not let any pieces overlap.
- Carefully slice the acorn squash in half. Scoop out and seeds and scrape the insides clean. Then, slice the acorn squash into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place the acorn squash on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up) in a single layer.
- Mix together the pure maple syrup, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush maple syrup over both sides of squash.
- Bake at 400F for 20 minutes until the bottom side of squash is nice and golden brown. Flip and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender. Set aside.
- Combine the mixed greens, roasted acorn squash, red onion, toasted pecans, pomegranate arils, dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese together. Drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette or dressing of choice and toss. Serve immediately.