Fall and winter salads are a must-do this time of year because they are so satisfying and made with hardy ingredients that can be served as a meal. This roasted acorn squash spinach salad is not like any other you’ve had in a while. It all starts with an Acorn Squash – squatty dark green on the outside, bright yellowish orange on the inside – that becomes caramelized as it cooks in the oven. The big question most people ask is whether to keep the skin on or remove it before cooking? I recommend leaving the skin on – it adds to the texture and it makes it much easier to prepare.
One thing you’ll need is a good knife to cut an acorn squash in half and after you scoop the seeds from the center, lay it flat on the board, so it’s easier to cut into 1/2 inch slices. Roast the slices of squash on a big sheet pan drizzled in oil — it will be done before the brown rice is finished. I decided to add hot brown rice to this recipe because it adds another chewy note to the bowl and it’s one of my favorite things to add to salads these days. The baby spinach is a delightful green that can take-on almost any type of topping, especially winter squash, and I also added a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds for color and tanginess that’s needed to contrast the pecorino cheese. It’s a big bowl of fall for dinner — that’s what I love about this salad.
1 acorn squash – halved, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup brown rice
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown or Dijon mustard
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet pan drizzled with oil, add slices of squash, toss to coat.
- Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until tender and golden brown on edges. Cook rice according to package.
- In a jar, add all vinaigrette ingredients and shake until combined.
- When squash is done, remove from oven and spoon 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette over top, toss and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add spinach leaves and top with warm rice. Add slices on squash and dust with pecorino cheese and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!