Spinach salad with persimmons and delicata squash is a hearty and robust side dish. It’s finished with caramelized onions, pistachios, and white wine vinaigrette. Add it to your holiday table for a pop of fall color. Vegan and gluten-free.
This autumnal salad highlights the best of the season.
Roasted delicata squash, mildly sweet persimmons, and caramelized onions play against the vinegar-based dressing and salty pistachios.
This dish has been a regular on my Thanksgiving menu for over a decade. It always goes over well. Plus, it adds some color and freshness to what can be a rather beige affair.
What does persimmon taste like?
The flavor of a persimmon is somewhere between a peach and a pear.
Like a pear, the fuyu persimmon can be eaten while it’s still crunchy. But it tastes best after it has ripened to become soft and juicy inside.
Eaten in hand like an apple, it can be devoured in its entirety, except for the occasional seeds and greenery on top.
What kind of persimmon should I use?
For this recipe, you’ll need a fuyu persimmon, not a hachiya.
To tell the difference between the two, note that the fuyu is flat bottomed. The hachiya is heart-shaped.
A fuyu can be eaten at any stage of its ripening process, while hachiya has to be overly ripe to be eaten.
(Still confused? Here’s a good primer on persimmons.)
Why delicata squash?
Of all of the varieties of squash, delicata is my favorite. Why?
- You don’t need to peel it. There’s no hacking away with a cleaver.
- The skin roasts beautifully.
- Because the delicata is smaller, it’s easy to cut into and remove the seeds. (See how easy it is to make roasted delicata squash <— here. The post also includes a video.)
How to make this salad with persimmons
Here’s what you’ll need for the salad.
Cut a small to medium sized delicata squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds.
Then slice the squash into half moons and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Toss with oil and salt.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Cut half an onion into half moons. Sauté with oil for 10 minutes in a skillet.
Once the onions start browning, lower heat and continue cooking. When they are brown and soft, add maple syrup and combine.
In a large salad bowl, combine roasted delicata squash, caramelized onions, persimmon pieces, baby spinach, and pistachios.
Toss with white wine vinaigrette. Or serve it on the side for guests to dress their own salads.
To make white wine vinaigrette, whisk the following together in a bowl:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Stoneground mustard
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Granulated onion
- Granulated garlic
Can I air fry the squash instead?
Delicata squash air fries beautifully and in a lot less time than in the oven. Plus, no parchment paper is necessary.
Air fry at 400 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes. Be careful not to overfill the basket. If necessary, work in batches for the most even browning.
Make it your own
You can make this recipe for your own by varying the ingredients and amounts.
- Make this salad a meal by adding browned vegan sausage like Field Roast apple sage, roasted chickpeas, and/or vegan feta cheese
- Instead of squash, use roasted sweet potato
- Instead of persimmon, use sliced raw apple or baked slices like in my salad with apples recipe
- Instead of caramelized onions, use raw sliced green onion
- Instead of pistachios, use roasted cashews, peanuts, toasted pine nuts, or sunflower seeds
- For a bit more sweetness, add a handful of dried cranberries
- Instead of white wine vinegar, replace with an equal amount of brown rice vinegar
- For more tang, increase the vinegar in the dressing
Can this salad be made ahead of time?
However, since spinach is prone to wilting, I recommend allowing the hot ingredients to cool before storing the salad.
Or store the toppings & dressing separately in the refrigerator in covered containers. Then combine them in a salad bowl and toss with dressing just before serving.
What to serve with it
This salad with persimmons would be a lovely addition to a holiday table, along with any of my vegan Thanksgiving recipes.
It would also go well with:
- Chicken-style vegan pot pie
- Lentil chili with pinto and black beans
- Vegan baked potato soup
- Creamy vegan risotto with mushrooms and sausage
- Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich
- Grilled Thanksgiving kebabs
Spinach salad with persimmons & delicata squash
For the salad
- 1 small to medium delicata squash
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- Pinch salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 medium-sized yellow onion sliced into thin half moons
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 Fuyu persimmon cut into thin, bite sized pieces
- 5 ounces baby spinach or baby spring mix
- 1/4 cup pistachios roasted and salted
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the top and bottom off the delicata squash and discard them. Cut the squash in half length-wise and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into half moons, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Toss the squash with one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Lay squash pieces evenly across the baking sheet, taking care not to touch or overcrowd. Roast squash for 20 minutes, flipping half-way through to evenly roast on both sides.
- While the squash roasts, heat a medium-sized skillet to a high medium heat. Add the remaining teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet. Drop the onion half moons into the pan, separating them into slices. Add a pinch of salt to the onions.
- Saute the onions for ten minutes, only moving them with a spatula occasionally. Once they have started to turn brown and crisp, turn the heat to low and continue cooking.After 7 to 10 more minutes, when they are brown and softened, drizzle onions with maple syrup. Fully combine the maple syrup with the onions, and remove from heat.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the roasted delicata squash, caramelized onions, persimmon pieces, baby spinach, and pistachios. Toss with white wine vinaigrette, or serve with dressing to drizzle onto each individual portion.
To make white wine vinaigrette
- Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, dried oregano, dried basil, onion granules, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Refrigerate until ready to use. Shake or stir dressing before using to evenly distribute the spices.
Content, recipe, and photos updated November 10, 2020. Originally posted October 28, 2015.