This delicious and filling fall harvest salad is filled with autumn flavors and packed with nutrition. Serve it with your Thanksgiving meal for a bright side, or serve it in big bowls for a healthy entrée. Creamy maple roasted delicata squash & red onion, apple cider cooked barley, salty feta, peppery arugula, sour sweet dried cranberries, crunchy pecans and a sweet & tangy maple vinaigrette are a match made in heaven.
We love to eat salad at my house, but as colder weather approaches, summer vegetables are no longer in season. Not to fret, though. Fall and winter offer plenty of delicious options to make hearty and warm salads to fill our bellies and warm our hearts. This Roasted Delicata Squash and Barley Salad has all the elements for a satisfying meal - hot and cold, sweet and tangy, soft and crunchy.
If you're a fan of both grain bowls and salads, this warm Roasted Delicata Squash Salad is for you. Salads aren't just for summer anymore, folks! This fall salad recipe features traditional fall flavors like sweet winter squash, maple syrup, apples and tangy cranberries, and it's full of healthy veggies and grains.
If you're looking for ways to get more vegetables into your diet during the colder months, look no further than this delicious Roasted Delicata Squash Salad!
Table of Contents
- How to Roast Delicata Squash and Red Onions
- How to Make Apple Scented Barley
- How to Make Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
- How to Assemble This Warm Fall Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more fall recipe inspiration? Check out these other delicious recipes:
How to Roast Delicata Squash and Red Onions
Delicata squash is one of my favorite winter squashes because it has extremely thin skin, meaning you don't have to peel it. That's right, the skin is actually edible! This make the preparation super easy.
First up, cut off the stem and base tips. This will provide a sturdy base for you to turn the squash upright. Slice vertically down the middle, then scrape out the seeds and pulp. Slice the delicata squash into ½" slices.
TIP: Want to try your hand at growing your own delicata squash? You can rinse the pulp off the seeds then set them to dry on paper towels. Allow them to dry thoroughly for 3-7 days out of direct sunlight, then place them in an envelope with the rest of your seed stock. They should last until at least next planting season!
Next up, peel your onion and remove both the root and tip ends. Slice the onion in half vertically, then make ¼" vertical slices for the entire onion.
Toss the onion and squash with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, olive oil and maple syrup, then spread out in a single layer onto parchment lined sheet pans.
TIP: Parchment paper is a sheet pan miracle. Clean up is a snap when all you have to do is toss the dirty parchment in the compost! No scrubbing or soaking is necessary. You're welcome.
Roast at 450F for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using tongs or a spatula, flip all squash pieces. Return sheet pans to the oven, switching rack positions between the two sheets for an even cook. Roast another 10-20 minutes, until squash is fork tender and golden, and the onions are beginning to char.
How to Make Apple Scented Barley
While you could certainly just boil your barley in plain salted water or vegetable stock, I wanted to impart more fall flavors into this yummy warm salad. To that end, I boiled my barley in an equal mix of apple cider and water, then added a cinnamon stick and bay leaf to the cooking liquid.
Bring the barley, liquid and whole spices to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer per package directions until al dente, then drain any remaining liquid. While still warm, toss with a few tablespoons of maple vinaigrette to soak up maximum flavor.
How to Make Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
I adapted this recipe from the gals over at Modern Proper, and y'all? It's a winner. Not only is it the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, it also comes together in no time at all. If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to bust it out.
TIP: Immersion blenders are the easiest way to emulsify salad dressings in almost no time. If you do not have one, you can still make this dressing, albeit with a bit more elbow grease.
If you don't have an immersion blender, mix all ingredients except olive oil in a medium bowl until well combined. Now, while whisking continuously, slowly add the olive oil. If you go too fast, the vinaigrette will break and it'll take a lot of whisking power to bring it back together.
TIP: To keep your bowl from spinning while you whisk, lightly dampen a kitchen towel, then twist it up (like you're going to snap someone in the locker room). Make a ring with the towel on your countertop, then nestle the bowl in the opening. This should keep it in place while your other hands are working. Cool, right?
How to Assemble This Warm Fall Salad
First, drizzle a bit of the creamy maple salad dressing on your warm barley and toss it. While the grains are still warm, they should do a good job of absorbing the flavors. Next toss as much of the squash, red onion, barley, cranberries, nuts and feta in a bowl with more dressing. Finally, toss in as much arugula as you like then season with salt as necessary.
Serve the fall salad nice and warm for the best flavor. Season with another pinch of salt and a hefty crack of fresh black pepper over the top, then dig in. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this harvest salad ahead of time?
Yes and No. You can make the individual elements ahead of time. The maple vinaigrette will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. The roasted squash and red onions will keep for up to 3 days ahead of time. The barley can also be made up to three days ahead of time, though you should dress it in several tablespoons of the vinaigrette before putting it up.
Be sure to at least allow the veggies and barley to come to room temperature before serving, or warm them briefly before assembling the salad. Do not assemble the salad ahead of time, rather keep all elements separate until service.
How should I serve this fall salad?
This Roasted Delicata Squash Salad is hearty enough to eat as an entrée salad, but is also excellent as a seasonally appropriate side. Serve it with your Thanksgiving or Christmas spread, or use it to toss with leftover turkey for a fresh take on Thanksgiving leftovers.
Do I have to use delicata squash?
Last year at Thanksgiving, I was unable to find delicata squash. If this is the case for you, other thin skinned winter squash like acorn squash. You can also use sweet potatoes or peeled butternut squash instead.
Do I have to use barley?
Nope! I also love this salad with wheat berries or farro. If you're gluten free, try subbing in wild rice, brown rice or quinoa.
Can I make this harvest salad vegan?
Sure thing! Feel free to either omit the feta or substitute a plant based version, and use vegan mayonnaise instead.
Need more fall recipe inspiration? Check out these other delicious recipes:
- Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Herbes de Provence Mustard
- Moussaka Style Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie
- Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup
If you made this delicious Fall Harvest Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash, please be sure to rate and review it below. If you’d like more delicious recipe inspiration delivered straight to your inbox, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook for more yummy and easy grub ideas!
Roasted Delicata Squash, Barley and Arugula Salad with Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
Maple Vinaigrette - Adapted from Modern Proper
Maple Roasted Delicata Squash & Red Onions
Barley (or Farro)
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl or utility cup and use an immersion blender to combine, about 15 seconds. If you do not have an immersion blender, combine all ingredients except the olive oil and whisk to combine. While continuously whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.
- Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, then spread in a single layer on parchment lined sheet pans. Roast at 450F for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using tongs, turn over all slices of squash, then return to the oven (switching racks if using more than one sheet pan) for 10-20 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook per package instructions. Drain any excess liquid, remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle a bit of dressing on the warm barley. Next, toss arugula, feta, nuts and cranberries with a bit more dressing. Sprinkle barley in with arugula mix and toss to incorporate. Plate up, then top with roasted squash and red onions. Enjoy!
- To make this vegan, sub vegan mayo and either omit feta or sub vegan feta.
- Barley and squash/onions can all be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Allow to return to room temperature or warm slightly before serving.
- Dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.