This easy vegan roasted pumpkin salad is filled out with toothy lentils, kale, and a garlicky tahini dressing. A great weeknight meal or warm salad to have around the holidays, it’s perfect throughout autumn and winter.
This roasted pumpkin salad is a riff on something I make all the time in autumn and winter, a vegan warm salad with some sort of roasted vegetable, lentils, greens, and a creamy tahini dressing. I shared a version of it about a year ago, my everyday spicy roasted carrots with tahini lentil salad.
It’s a similar idea, with different spices and a slightly different dressing. If you’re not a big tahini person, the dressing is great with almond butter too.
I had wanted to share this recipe, with the roasted pumpkin and kale, a couple of years before sharing that other version, but every time I tried to take pictures the pumpkin just wouldn’t cooperate with me. We also don’t necessarily have pumpkins around all the time. It feels a bit more special this way, with the pumpkin, kale, and a lighter dressing. It’s essentially a fancy lentil salad and it’s excellent.
I used a kogigu squash in these photos, and was told that it doesn’t need to be peeled. It should be peeled. You can use a hokkaido and skip peeling, or try butternut, acorn, whatever.
It looks more beautiful than the carrots too, with the half rounds of roasted pumpkin, so definitely go for the slices like this if you can. It’s much nicer than pumpkin chunks. Maybe not important if it’s just for a weeknight dinner, but if you’re serving it to a group or for the holidays, it’s easy to make it look nice.
Pomegranate is key in this recipe. You need those little acidic pops or else the salad is too rich and savoury. Cranberry sauce would be a good alternative, and equally festive, so if you don’t have a pom around, dollops of cranberry sauce are also fine.
Choosing a tahini you actually like, also key. Turning it into a sauce and pouring it over roasted veggies is obviously not the same as eating straight from the jar, but it should be at least edible straight, or you won’t like the dressing either. Runny tahini is best – I particularly like this one, it’s my go-to when available.
If you’re skeptical of tahini, try it out in a couple things and see how it goes. It is bitter on its own but adds depth to a wide variety of dishes. I have a whole host of recipes featuring tahini, from vegan banana bread, to tahini pesto, orange tahini granola, as a dip with my quinoa & swiss chard patties, and my go-to sauce for just about everything. Tahini is not just for falafel and hummus, and you should definitely have some in the house. (I used to hate tahini, now I don’t know what to do without it!)
A trick with the sauce – it does tend to thicken up significantly after sitting for a few minutes. It also has a tendency to seize if you go a little crazy with the maple syrup. Water can be added to thin it up to a point, but it will, of course, dilute the flavour. Don’t go over a tablespoon or so of water.
After that, add a little more olive oil, and vinegar, to thin it out. You also might get some weird separation happening. A touch more vinegar and some vigorous whisking will sort that right out.
And you will have garlic breath after eating this winter salad. To avoid that, you can leave the garlic out – only if you must – or use roasted garlic instead. Just toss a clove of garlic in, skin on, while the pumpkin roasts and then mash and pop it in the dressing. That’s also a good idea if you want to feed this to kids, if raw garlic is a little too spicy for them. The ginger tahini dressing is amazing, I add it to everything!
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- 400 grams / 1/2 small pumpkin, cut into 2cm slices
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 300 grams / 2 cups cooked lentils*
- 1 bunch kale, chopped, ~70 grams
- 1/2 pomegranate, seeds
Tahini Ginger Dressing
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup runny tahini
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F. Toss the pumpkin with the oil and spices, then roast for 35-40 minutes or until golden and softened.
- Add the lentils and kale to a large platter, then top with the hot pumpkin. This will help to wilt the kale slightly. Top with the tahini dressing, followed by the pomegranate, and serve warm.
- To make the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a jar or container and whisk until combined. If it's too thick after sitting for a few minutes, add up to a tablespoon of water and whisk again. If it's still too thick after adding water, add a little more oil and vinegar until it reaches a pourable consistency again.
* I used plain brown lentils here, but le puy and black lentils would be prettier!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 2g Unsaturated Fat: 13g Sodium: 547mg Carbohydrates: 39g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 13g Protein: 13g