Delicata Squash Salad with Crispy Paneer and Creamy Cilantro Dressing
January 11, 2022
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

This beautiful, hearty salad is quick enough for a healthy weeknight meal while also feeling special enough for entertaining. Sweet delicata squash takes center stage and saves you time with its thin and edible skin. Paneer, a traditional Indian ingredient, is a firm non-melting cheese that crisps up deliciously in the oven. It adds protein and calcium to this dish, alongside chickpeas, which also contribute protein and fiber. Kale, rich in vitamins A, K and C, as well as powerful antioxidants, is a tasty way to fortify your immune system and lower inflammation in your body. The creamy cilantro dressing that ties this whole dish together also helps detoxify your body. Cilantro contains powerful anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It also promotes liver health and decreases bad cholesterol.

Serves: 4

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, stem ends trimmed and cut into ½ inch half moons
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed paneer cheese
  • 4 cups lacinato kale, thick stems trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 small handful cilantro
  • 1 small handful mint
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Hemp hearts, to serve (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss together the squash, chickpeas, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer and roast for 10 minutes.
  2. While the squash roasts, make the dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, avocado, cilantro, mint, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until completely smooth, and season to taste as needed.
  3. After 10 minutes, add the paneer to the sheet pan and toss everything together. Roast for another 10 minutes, until the squash is tender and the paneer and chickpeas are golden and crispy. Remove from the oven.
  4. Gently toss the kale onto the warm sheet pan, being careful to not break up the squash. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with your prepared dressing to taste. Top with hemp hearts, if desired, and enjoy! Serve with any extra dressing alongside.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: