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I've been making this Roasted Pumpkin Spinach Salad for years now, and it is still one of my favorite autumn salad recipes. It is easy to make, healthy, and the pumpkin maple dressing is to die for. It is a vegetarian recipe that can easily be made vegan + paleo.
This is the salad that's been on repeat here every autumn for years. I used to make it for guests at my underground restaurant, and it was always met with rave reviews. Now, I make it for friends and family, and there's never any left in the salad bowl after dinner.
The star of the show here is the maple pumpkin salad dressing. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty proud of this dressing. I spent lots of time tweaking it, but once I nailed it, I've made it exactly the same way ever since. It's one of the few recipes I follow to a T and never change.
The idea for it originally came from a salad I had at a neighborhood restaurant, Railtown Cafe. It blew my mind, and I knew I had to recreate it. It's creamy and gently sweet and has the most gorgeous orange color.
Do you see how pretty that orange is? ← insert all the heart eye emojis.
But this pumpkin spinach salad is about more than just the dressing. This is all about flavors and textures that truly compliment each other.
Roasted pumpkin → I usually use kabocha squash as I'm totally in love with the rich flavor and creamy texture. You can use butternut squash or even sweet potatoes. They're lightly coated in a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne and then oven roasted. These sweet little nuggets are not only delicious and healthy, they really bulk up the salad and make it quite filling. This salad with a piece of fish or chicken on top is all you need for a simple dinner.
Goat cheese → There are few things better than tangy goat cheese in a salad. I love the way it breaks apart when you're tossing it so that the whole salad gets lightly coated in creamy goat cheese. It's delicious.
Crunchy apples → A fall salad wouldn't be complete without apples. They add the perfect sweet/tart crispy bite.
Fried onions → Hold your horses. Stop right there. Fried onions are EVERYTHING! One of the reasons I didn't share this salad until now is that I could only find fried onions at my little Asian market, and I wanted you to be able to make this with ingredients that aren't hard to find. Well, last week I saw fried onions at Costco
Pumpkin seeds → Those salty little things that are way more fun to say if you call them pepitas.
More delicious salad recipes
- Autumn Quinoa Salad
- Sweet and Creamy Kale Waldorf Salad
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons
- Baby Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Spicy Candied Pecans
- Roasted Beet and Kale Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts
- Asian Carrot Salad
- The Best Greek Salad Recipe
- ½ a butternut or kabocha squash (about 1 lb, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- A pinch of each: cinnamon and cayenne
- 10 ounces baby spinach (or spinach/ arugula mix)
- 2 ounces goat cheese (crumbled)
- ⅓ cup each: pumpkin seeds and fried onions (see notes)
- 1 apple (sliced)
- ¾ cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix!)
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic (very finely minced)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Set your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the butternut squash on the baking sheet, add the olive oil, sea salt, cinnamon, and cayenne and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway, until the squash is soft and starting to brown in some places. Remove from the oven and let it cool before using it in the salad. TIP: Roast the whole squash and make this salad for a few meals.½ a butternut or kabocha squash, 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon sea salt, A pinch of each: cinnamon and cayenne
- While the squash is roasting, combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend on high until it is smooth and creamy about 30 seconds.¾ cup canned pumpkin, ⅔ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Pile the spinach, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, fried onions, and apple slices into a salad bowl. Top with the cooled roasted squash and some of the dressing. Toss and serve right away.10 ounces baby spinach, 2 ounces goat cheese, ⅓ cup each: pumpkin seeds and fried onions, 1 apple
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