Why It Works
- Roasting delicata squash quickly in a hot oven achieves optimal surface browning with a creamy and tender interior.
- Arranging the squash slices around the perimeter of the baking sheet helps ensure even browning; it also provides space for roasting kale in the middle of the same sheet pan.
Roasted delicata squash is delicious and satisfying on its own, but with a couple additional elements you can turn it into a composed vegetarian dish that’s fit for a holiday table. This sheet-pan salad balances the natural sweetness of delicata squash with hearty roasted kale, a mustardy vinaigrette, and a crunchy topping of savory Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted hazelnuts.
The key to roasting delicata squash is to get even caramelization on the flesh without burning it, while also achieving a soft and creamy texture. Cutting squash into thick cross-section slices allows you to get the best of both worlds. I toss the slices with melted butter before arranging them around the perimeter of a rimmed baking sheet for optimal heat transfer and even browning. Make sure to leave room between the slices on the baking sheet; overcrowding will result in steamed squash rather than the golden brown and tender results that we’re after.
Arranging the squash slices around the perimeter of the baking sheet not only produces consistent browning, but for this recipe it also has an added benefit of leaving a wide-open space at the center of the sheet pan for roasting lacinato kale at the same time.
Dressing the Salad
I love the flavor combination of fresh sage and thyme with winter squash and butter. For this salad, I add chopped thyme to a simple mustard vinaigrette and pour it directly over the roasted vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven. Once the squash and kale are well-dressed, I finish the dish with a savory crumble made with toasted hazelnuts, Parmesan, and chopped sage. Serve this autumnal sheet-pan salad as a holiday side, or as a light weeknight dinner.
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (1g) chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup (60g) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons (10g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons (2g) chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 medium delicata squash (about 2 pounds; 900g total), washed and dried
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus extra as needed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
- 1 bunch (8 ounces; 225g) lacinato kale (a.k.a. dinosaur, Tuscan, or black kale), tough stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch pieces
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil, vinegar, thyme, and mustard until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
In a second small bowl, combine hazelnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sage; set aside.
Trim both ends of each delicata squash. Stand one squash up on its larger flat cut side, and use a chef’s knife to slice down lengthwise through the center of the squash, creating two even halves. Use a soup spoon to scrape out and discard the seeds and any fibrous flesh attached to them. Repeat with second squash. Place squash halves cut-side down on a large cutting board, and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Transfer squash slices to a large bowl.
Add melted butter, salt, and pepper to the bowl and toss to coat squash slices evenly. Transfer squash slices to a rimmed baking sheet, arranging them around the perimeter of the sheet with an even amount of space between each slice; set aside the large bowl. Roast squash until golden brown on bottom side, 12 to 14 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss kale in the now-empty large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil. Using your hands, massage kale until slightly wilted, about 1 minute.
Once squash slices are browned on the first side, transfer baking sheet to a heatproof surface, and use kitchen tweezers or tongs to flip each slice over. Transfer massaged kale to empty space in the center of the baking sheet. Rotate baking sheet 180 degrees, return it to the oven, and continue to roast until squash slices have browned on second side, about 10 minutes.
Transfer baking sheet to a heatproof surface. Briefly whisk the vinaigrette to re-emulsify then immediately drizzle over the kale and squash. Use a wide spatula to gently toss until vegetables are evenly coated with dressing. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with hazelnut mixture, transfer to a serving platter, and serve right away.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The vinaigrette can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The finished salad is best enjoyed right away while still warm, but leftovers can be reheated gently in a skillet on the stovetop with a little additional butter or olive oil.