A vibrant, yet sturdy, pearl couscous and roasted delicata squash salad, tossed with tender kale, pomegranate arils, pepitas, and crumbled goat cheese, that’s perfect as autumnal side dish or a versatile meal prep lunch.
It took me a while to come around on delicata squash. (I only started cooking with it last year.) Though I knew the skin could be eaten, I was suspicious that it really should be. (Looking at you, acorn squash.) I feared the flesh would be mealy like so many other winter squash varieties. It turns out my fears were unfounded. The skin cooks up beautifully – tender with a faint bite much more like a cooked apple skin than that of a winter squash. The flesh does vary in texture, but generally, it’s smooth with just the right density. At its best, delicata is sweet and roasts up with crispy, caramelized edges. But even the more savory specimens are delicious.
Because of its relatively thin skin, delicata squash doesn’t store as well as its counterparts and fall is the prime season for enjoying them. In that spirit, this roasted delicata squash salad recipe offers all the best of what’s good in the fall. Tender kale, ripe pomegranate arils, sweet red onions, and toasted pepitas all pop against a backdrop of toasted pearl couscous and roasted delicata squash. A simple, pantry-friendly apple cider vinaigrette ties it all together while crumbled goat cheese lends a creamy pop.
I like this roasted delicata squash salad best warm or at room temperature. It holds up well stored in the fridge for a couple of days. If you’re planning to eat it over multiple days, cook the couscous just to al dente so it will retain it’s texture after a day or two.
A vibrant, yet sturdy, pearl couscous and roasted delicata squash salad, tossed with tender kale, pomegranate arils, pepitas, and crumbled goat cheese, that's perfect as autumnal side dish or a versatile meal prep lunch. Recipe inspired by a recipe from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home In the Whole Food Kitchen.
- 2 medium delicata squash, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 a red onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup raw, hulled pepitas
- 1 1/2 cup pearl couscous
- 1 3/4 cup boiling water
- 4 cups kale, woody stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese chèvre
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Trim the ends of the squash and cut into 1/2-inch thick crescents. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, chili powder, pepper, and sea salt. Spread out on baking sheet. Roast squash 20 minutes. Flip, slide squash back into the oven, and set a timer for 15 minutes. When timer dings, move squash over to one side of pan to make room for red onion slices and pepitas. Roast everything 5 minutes more, or just until pepitas are golden and fragrant.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk to combine minced red onion, apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, and sea salt in a small bowl. Let sit 5 - 10 minutes, then whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
While squash roasts, make couscous. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, and the couscous, and toast, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Pour in 1 3/4 cups boiling water, bring couscous to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover; cook 12 - 15 minutes or until couscous is al dente. Uncover, drizzle with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette, and toss. Set aside to cool.
Toss kale with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
To assemble salad, either on a platter or in a large bowl, pile couscous in several distinct clumps. Pile kale in between. Tuck roasted delicata squash, red onion, and pepitas throughout. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with pomegranate arils, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh ground pepper to taste.