Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Chickpeas and Apple. Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

Here’s my formula for a satisfying, seasonal, full-meal salad: leafy green + roasted vegetable + bean + nut/seed + fruit + cheese + vinaigrette. Each component has a distinct role to play for a beautiful, nutritionally balanced dish, and it’s easy enough to have all the elements in your refrigerator or pantry, ready to be pulled together for a stellar meal on demand.

The leafy greens, any variety from tender lettuce to hearty kale or chicory, provide a voluminous, fresh base. A roasted seasonal vegetable – which may be whatever you have left over from a previous night’s dinner – brings a measure of savory, caramelized flavor. Open a can of beans – pinto, cannellini, chickpeas – to add hearty vegetable protein, and add a sprinkle of toasted nuts or seeds for more protein and satisfying crunch.

Bite-size pieces of fresh fruit – grapes, apple, pear, persimmon, orange – enliven the mix with sweet-tart juiciness, and chunks of soft cheese, such as goat cheese, feta or mozzarella, provide creamy luxuriousness. (You can omit the cheese to make the salad vegan.)

The vinaigrette can be as simple as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, or it can be gussied up with mustard, minced shallot or onion, and maybe a dash of honey or maple syrup to tie the sweet and savory salad components together.

This salad is one iteration of how this ingredient math adds up – it’s irresistible proof of concept. In it, torn leaves of dark red lettuce are tossed with fresh apple, chickpeas and red onion in a maple-mustard vinaigrette, then served topped with slices of golden, roasted delicata squash – cooked with curry spices and a touch of maple syrup for a compelling sweet-spicy flavor – a crunch of toasted pumpkin seeds and dollops of soft, creamy goat cheese.

It’s a salad that can inspire a multitude of variations, and is sure to brighten any fall or winter day.


Delicata Squash Salad with Chickpeas and Apple

4 to 6 servings

Total time: 40 mins

Make ahead: The squash can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.


1 large delicata squash (13 ounces)


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons maple syrup, divided

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided


1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large head red leaf lettuce, torn (lightly packed 8 to 10 cups)

One (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


1/2 large red apple, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled


Position one rack in the middle of the oven and another in the lower third, and preheat to 400 degrees.

Trim the ends off the squash, then halve it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. (There is no need to peel it.) Slice the squash into 1/3-inch-thick half-moons. Place it on a large sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat. Spread the squash pieces in a single layer, then roast on the middle rack for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of the maple syrup, the curry powder, rosemary, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Remove the squash from the oven, drizzle it with the spice mixture, toss to coat evenly, then redistribute the squash evenly on the pan. Return to the oven and roast for about 5 minutes, or until the squash is tender and beginning to brown in spots. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

While the squash roasts, arrange the pumpkin seeds on a small sheet pan and toast on the lower rack for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times, until they’re fragrant and begin to pop. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, the apple cider vinegar, mustard, the remaining 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper until combined.

In a large bowl, arrange the lettuce, followed by the chickpeas, apple and onion. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat.

To serve, evenly divide the salad among plates. Top each with the roasted squash, pumpkin seeds and some goat cheese.

Nutrition | Per serving, based on 6: 241 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 7mg cholesterol, 14g fat, 5g fiber, 8g protein, 4g saturated fat, 368mg sodium, 8g sugar

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