This seasonal roasted pumpkin salad is made with your choice of pumpkin or winter squash, sweetened dried cranberries, apples, pecans, pepitas, and red onion on a bed of baby spinach, tossed in a dijon mustard balsamic dressing.
I love everything about fall. The cool crisp weather, pumpkin spice everything (no hate please!), and the anticipation of seasonal events yet to come.
I especially love the seasonal produce that pops up in my local grocery store in the fall-time – crisp apples, pomegranates, and the abundance and variety of winter squashes, some edible and some simply beautiful!
Check out this post with all the vegan pumpkin recipes – both sweet and savory – from Veggie Fun Kitchen!
Why you will love this seasonal roasted pumpkin salad
- lots of seasonal goodies inside including apples, dried sweetened cranberries, and pecans
- healthy greens
- easy to make
- a cacophony of flavors and textures
- perfect to make and take to your special events
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- Why you will love this seasonal roasted pumpkin salad
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- Ingredients needed to make a spinach salad with roasted pumpkin
- How to make roasted pumpkin salad
- The printable recipe card for Roasted Pumpkin Spinach Salad
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Ingredients needed to make a spinach salad with roasted pumpkin
- your choice of pumpkin or other winter squash
- baby spinach
- apple – I like a flavorful snappy apple, NOT red delicious
- red onion
- dried sweetened cranberries
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
How to make roasted pumpkin salad
Step 1: prepare and roast your winter squash
Peel and cut your pumpkin or winter squash into bite-sized pieces. Most winter squashes will need to be peeled because they have tough outer skin. The exceptions are the green Kabocha squash and the delicata squash. Both of those can be roasted and eaten, skin and all.
After cutting your squash into bite-sized pieces, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turn out onto a prepared sheet pan and roast until tender and a little browned around the edges.
The lovely green Japanese Kabocha Squash
While you can use any edible winter squash for this roasted pumpkin salad, my favorite is this lovely green pumpkin: the Japanese Kabocha Squash. From its tender (and yes, edible) skin to its bright orange, creamy, sweet, and almost nutty flavor; the seasonal Kabocha squash is my choice of winter squash to use in recipes for salads, soups, and seasonal Buddha Bowls.
Delicata squash is another seasonal squash that can be roasted and eaten with its tender skin. Other pumpkins or winter squashes will need to have the tough skin removed before roasting and eating.
Even the Kabocha squash is only best when its skin is fresh and tender. If I see yellowed spots, I remove that part of the skin as well as any weird brown bumps or scars.
Butternut squash is also delicious in this autumn salad. Peeling and dicing squash can be challenging! Read here to learn the easiest method for peeling and cutting butternut squash.
Step 2: prep the other ingredients
While the pumpkin is roasting, you can prep all the yummy seasonal add-ins for this autumn pumpkin salad.
I buy my baby spinach prewashed and bagged. If you buy yours loose from your produce department, you will need to wash and dry thoroughly before using it in the salad or risk a watery spinach salad!
Use dried sweetened cranberries and roasted salted pepitas. Pepitas are like pumpkin seeds only without the shell. For years I thought they were simply ordinary pumpkin seeds with the shells removed before roasting.
Have you ever tried removing the shells from pumpkin seeds? DON’T! It’s a futile huge effort. Did you know that pepitas are actually from pumpkins whose seeds are hull-less? Who knew? To read more about the difference between pumpkin seeds and pepitas, read this article by Food 52.
Slice the red onion thin. If the red onion is extra-large, I’ll also cut the large slices in half.
Wash, core, and slice or chop the apple. No need to peel! The colorful apple skins lend a beautiful color and texture to this autumn spinach salad. You can use any variety of apples you’d like. I do not like to use red delicious in this salad because the skin is a little tough for me and the flavor, frankly boring. Today I used a gala apple.
Step 3: Prepare the dressing
While the pumpkin is roasting, you can also prepare the dressing. This balsamic dijon mustard dressing is quick and easy to whip up and the flavor perfectly balances out and enhances the sweet roasted pumpkin, and tart cranberry flavors.
This dressing does contain oil. For my WFPB oil-free friends, mix up some of my oil-free balsamic dressing instead. It uses aquafaba (bean juice) to lend a slippery texture *almost* like oil. To read more about cooking with aquafaba, read this post with 70+ Vegan Aquafaba Recipes by Cooking of Caffeine.
You can mix the dressing up ahead of time but do whisk right before using!
Putting it together!
Plate it or toss it. Drizzle the dressing or mix it in. You have a beautiful healthy autumn spinach salad made with all the yummy seasonal add-ins! We serve this pumpkin salad as a main course in our home. It would also be a lovely presentation at a buffet or pot-luck or as a side salad at your family holiday table.
How long will it keep?
I have eaten the leftovers the next day for lunch and it is delicious. I would not serve this day-old spinach salad to others though. It is best served fresh.
Try these other seasonal squash recipes from Veggie Fun Kitchen
- Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Butternut Soup with Rosemary and Thyme
- Roasted Pumpkin Pasta Salad
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Ratatouille
- Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce with Curry
- Butternut Squash Curry with Chickpeas
The printable recipe card for Roasted Pumpkin Spinach Salad
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Autumn Spinach Salad with Roasted Pumpkin
- baking sheet
The Roasted Pumpkin
- 4 cups pumpkin skin removed, skin removed – see notes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil more for the dressing – see below
Dijon Balsamic Dressing
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 5.25 ounces baby spinach see notes
- 1 apple washed, cored, and cut/chopped, see notes
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- ¼ cup dried cranberries I used craisins
- ¼ cup pepitas
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375° and prepare a large baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Wash and dry the baby spinach it's not already washed.
- Wash, peel, and removed the seeds from a pumpkin or winter squash of choice. I used the green pumpkin – a Japanese Kabocha squash. This winter squash does not need to have the skin removed.
- Cut the prepared pumpkin into small one-inch pieces. You will need four cups which is about 1/2 of a med/small pumpkin. Place the cubed pumpkin into a medium-sized bowl.
- Toss the cubed pumpkin with the salt, black pepper, and olive oil.
- Spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. The edges should start to brown and the roasted pumpkin will be fork-tender. Remove from the oven and allow to sit while prepping the salad.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the balsamic salad dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and maple syrup. Set asid.
- As soon as the roasted pumpkin has been removed from the oven, begin putting the salad together. You will want the pumpkin to be warm but not piping hot when you add it to the salad.
- Slice the red onion very thin. Wash, slice or dice the apple. You don't need to peel it but you do need to core and remove the seeds. Chop the pecans if they aren't already chopped.
- To a large bowl, add the washed and dried baby spinach, sliced onion, diced apple, chopped pecans, dried cranberry, and pepitas.
- Add the slightly cooled roasted pumpkin and toss together with the prepared dressing.