This gorgeous roasted delicata orzo salad with arugula is a perfect fall salad: sweet roasted delicata squash paired with comforting orzo and peppery arugula, all tossed in a creamy maple tahini dressing. It’s an easy plant-based dinner on its own, or lovely side dish for a special meal. 

Of all of the different types of squash, I feel like delicata squash is one of the easiest to cook with, and perhaps one of most underappreciated!

Take it from someone whose cookbooks, like Good For Your Gut, are filled with salads: I love salads any time of year! But when the weather cools, I up the cozy factor with more filling additions like roasted vegetables, pasta, or whole grains and often, creamier dressings. Like my winter panzanella salad with roasted squash, or my Harissa-roasted sweet potato spinach salad , this roasted delicata orzo salad is one of those plant-based recipes that will win over pretty much anyone coming to dinner, and the dietitian in me loves that it makes eating seasonal vegetables even more delicious!

roasted delicata orzo salad on platter with dressing

How to Roast Delicata Squash

Roasting delicata squash is so simple, because the skin is so thin you don’t even need to peel it! It is also easier to cut than thick-skinned varieties.

  • Step One: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment to avoid sticking. 
  • Step Two: Trim squash ends and slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh.
  • Step Three: Slice squash in even slices to ensure even cooking. For this recipe, I like ½ inch (1 cm ) slices.
  • Step Four: Toss squash with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of avocado oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit of spice, like a bit of cinnamon, coriander, curry powder or cumin if you like! Spread on baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes on one side. Turn slices over and roast for 15-18 minutes on the other side, until both sides are golden brown in spots. 
roasted delicata squash on baking sheet

Ingredients for this Roasted Delicata Orzo Salad with Arugula

This roasted delicata squash salad is a wonderful plant-based option for holiday meals like thanksgiving or anytime you’re just craving some more vegetables.

  • Delicata Squash: Sweet-fleshed roasted delicata squash makes a comforting base for this salad
  • Orzo: This rice-shaped pasta has a delicate texture that doesn’t overwhelm the salad
  • Baby Arugula: mild with a slightly peppery bite, baby arugula creates a lovely flavour contrast
  • Shallot: milder than onion, with just a bit of bite. Finely dice so it’s not too intense!
  • Almonds: I love the crunch of almonds here, but you could substitute walnuts or pecans if you prefer
  • Medjool Dates: I love the caramel-like flavour of dates here, but if you could try dried cranberries or cherries too
  • Semi-firm Vegan Cheese: I use a chevre-style semi-firm cheese from Spread’Em Kitchen, but a vegan feta or my vegan ricotta would be nice here too!
  • Maple Tahini Dressing: my creamy maple tahini dressing is a perfect pairing of sweet maple and nutty, earthy tahini. Tahini is a great source of plant-based calcium and iron
roasted delicata orzo salad ingredients

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad Tips, Tricks + Substitutions

This is a simple salad to prepare! The only thing that takes a bit of time is roasting the delicata squash, so start that first and the rest of the salad will be ready by the time the squash is done.

Want to make ahead? Roast the delicata squash, cook the orzo and make the maple tahini dressing up to a day in advance, and store in the fridge. Assemble just before serving.

If you’re nut free, substitute pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the nuts. Gluten free? Substitute quinoa, millet or rice and cook according to package directions.

Want to change it up? Try my creamy balsamic vinaigrette for a zippier, lighter vegan salad dressing that’s less sweet.

How to make this recipe low FODMAP

It takes a few low FODMAP swaps, but it can be easily done!

Step one: Sub tiny gluten free pasta or quinoa for wheat orzo. Step two: Swap kabocha squash for delicata Step three: Ditch the dates + shallot. Add thinly sliced green onion tops if you wish! And, ditch the garlic in the maple tahini dressing. Step 4: use a non-nut based vegan cheese (ensure no garlic!) like Violife parmesan or feta.

More Vegan Squash Recipes

roasted delicata orzo salad on platter with fork

Roasted Delicata Orzo Salad with Arugula

This gorgeous roasted delicata orzo salad with arugula is a perfect fall salad: sweet roasted delicata squash paired with comforting orzo and peppery arugula, all tossed in a creamy maple tahini dressing.
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Ingredients

  • 2 small delicata squash, 1 ½ lbs total
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 cup orzo pasta, or dry quinoa for gluten free
  • 4 packed cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup vegan ricotta, or semi-firm vegan cheese like Spread Em Kitchen, optional
  • ¼ cup Medjool dates, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds, or pumpkin seeds for nut free
  • ¼ cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 recipe maple tahini dressing
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

Roasted Delicata Squash

  • Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, set aside.
  • Cut delicata in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and slice into 1/2 inch (1 cm ) slices. Place on baking sheet and toss with oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 20 minutes on one side, flip slices and roast for 15-18 minutes more, until both sides are golden brown in spots. Set aside.

Salad Assembly

  • Meanwhile, cook orzo or quinoa according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large salad bowl on or a platter, toss arugula and orzo with half the maple tahini dressing. Top with roasted squash, shallot, dates, almonds and vegan cheese, if using. Drizzle with remaining dressing and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Notes

This salad will serve 6 as a side dish, but will also make a nice main for 4. To boost protein, you can add a can of rinsed chickpeas to the squash for roasting.