An Ideal Thanksgiving Side: Roasted Squash Salad

Two squash varieties star in this autumnal spin from New Orleans’ Plates

A close-up of roasted squash on a plate. The squash is on top of whipped mascarpone and has arugula and a brown dressing on top

Photo: courtesy of plates restaurant & bar

Earlier this fall, New Orleans’ Warehouse District welcomed Plates Restaurant & Bar, a space in a former cotton mill inspired by the idea of culinary congregation. It’s fitting, then, that Plates chef Farrell Harrison is sharing this side sure to inspire seconds at Thanksgiving. 

Plates, the dream of Harrison and longtime friend and former Link Restaurant Group general manager Brian Weisnicht, opened with a menu that revolves around the passing of plates, as you would at a large family gathering. Harrison includes dashes of Creole cuisine, as well as moments of European and Southeast Asian influences, all of which represents the immigrant-heavy historic culture of the city. Diners, for instance, will find both beef bombas—a beloved recipe in Spain—and a mustard-braised rabbit with German-style spaetzle, a traditional boiled noodle. The Mediterranean in particular shines here, with the drink list skews heavily toward bottles from that region.

photo: courtesy of plates restaurant & bar
Inside Plates Restaurant & Bar.

Weisnicht spearheaded the wine selections and collaborated with lead bartender  Paula Echevarria. “When Paula heard about our tapas concept,” Harrison says, “she knew she needed to bring her cultural knowledge and Spanish roots to the table. Paula loves to share her passion of vermouth and sherry by creating approachable cocktails worthy of the New Orleans historically rich palate.”

That also palate gets satiated with a large menu divided into hot and cold preparations, the former of which includes the likes of seared scallop maque choux, with sweet corn puree and romesco; a pork porterhouse, with sweet potato gratin, creole mustard, and bordelaise; and a crispy coq au vin with mushrooms, confit potatoes, and a red wine jus. On the cold side comes this this creative roasted squash dish that’s easy to serve and offers plenty of oomph in the form of an intoxicating, butter-based dressing. 

“I love the flavor profile of butternut squash with brown butter,” Harrison says, “and typically have gone the route of a gnocchi on menus before, but I wanted to challenge myself and the team to make a warm or room-temp salad. We are an extremely collaborative kitchen, and this is a prime example of how each dish is built with input from everyone. The final salad has come to be a favorite among our regulars due to the flavor profile hitting familiar notes but being presented in a different light.”


  • Roasted Squash Salad (Yield: 6 servings)

    • 2 whole acorn squash

    • 1 whole butternut squash

    • Olive oil, to toss

    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    • ½ cup lightly toasted pepitas, crushed

    • 1 cup whipped mascarpone, divided (recipe follows)

    • 1½ cups brown butter vinaigrette, divided (recipe follows)

    • 4 cups arugula

    • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

    • Salt and pepper, to taste


    • 8 oz. mascarpone

    • ¼ cup heavy cream

    • 1 orange, zested

    • ½ cup chives

    • 2 tsp. salt

    • ¼ tsp. black pepper


    • ½ lb. butter

    • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    • 1 shallot, minced

    • 1 tbsp. honey

    • 2 tsp. salt

    • ¼ tsp. black pepper

    • ¾ cup blended oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut each squash in half, lengthwise. Remove seeds from the acorn squash. Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss all with olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt.

  2. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Note, the butternut squash will cook faster and will need to be removed before the acorn squash. You can check each as they cook by inserting a clean toothpick to see if it pricks easily. 

  3. After removing from the oven, slice the acorn squash into ½-inch crescents, and then cut those in half. Cool to room temperature.

  4. Make the whipped mascarpone: In a mixer, add mascarpone and heavy cream. Whip on high speed until fluffy. Fold in zest, chives, salt, and pepper. Set aside until serving. 

  5. Make the brown butter vinaigrette: Add butter to a skillet over medium-low heat and cook until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature, and add vinegar, shallot, honey, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add to a container with the oil and beat until emulsified and completely combined. Store at room temperature until ready to dress the salad. 

  6. Plate the salad: Toast pepitas in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often so they don’t burn. Crush, for example with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. 

  7. Spread all of the whipped mascarpone into the center of a platter if creating one big salad to pass. To create the six individual servings instead, divide the mascarpone between six plates (roughly 1⅓ oz. per plate).

  8. In a mixing bowl, toss both types of squash with 6 oz. of brown butter vinaigrette. Salt and pepper the squash, if needed. Divide and place the squash on top of the mascarpone. 

  9. Toss arugula with the remaining half of the brown butter vinaigrette and plate it around the squash. Garnish with toasted pepitas and a squeeze of lemon.