A fall favorite, this vibrant acorn squash-starring salad gets its distinctive flavor from pink peppercorns, which look pretty on the plate, have a lighter pepper taste, and can be found at well-stocked grocers. Serve it as a robust side salad or double the portion size to make it an entree. Skip the cheese and it’s vegan! Either way, it’s totally delicious!
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette
If you don’t like pepper, you can skip them altogether and still end up with a mighty delicious side dish or first course.
- 2 small or 1 large acorn squash halved, seeded, and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs optional
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
- 4 ounces mixed baby greens washed and spun dry
- 1⁄4 cup hazelnuts toasted and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves optional
- 2 ounces ricotta salata cheese or other mild, creamy cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the squash slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic powder, thyme sprigs, and 11⁄2 teaspoons salt. Spread the squash out in one even layer and roast, flipping halfway through, until the squash is soft in the middle and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet and discard the thyme sprigs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the 1⁄4 cup olive oil and the vinegar. Using your hands, gently crush the pink peppercorns, then add them to the bowl. Season to taste with salt.
In a large bowl, toss the baby greens with half of the vinaigrette. Transfer to a platter or serving bowl, top with the squash, hazelnuts, mint, and cheese. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad and some of the squash slices.
Recipe: Olivia Mack Anderson
Photography: Paul Strabbing