Yes – you read that right! It’s a salad but also a sheet pan dinner! This Easy Sheet Pan Salad with Chicken, Pears and Squash combines crunchy fresh greens dressed in a citrus vinaigrette with roasted chicken, butternut squash and pears, and topped with blue cheese and pomegranate arils. The flavors are earthy, yet bright, and such a perfect way to embrace healthy eating in the colder months.
If you’re looking for some other sheet pan dinner ideas, check out this Sheet Pan Salmon with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta or this Easy Spring Sheet Pan Chicken with Asparagus and Peas!
I love a recipe like this because it allows you to be so efficient with your time. After you prep the first part of the recipe and put it in the oven to roast, you can easily work on the other parts – making the vinaigrette, preparing the greens, seeding the pomegranate and chopping the parsley. Honestly, there’s even time to clean up, so that after dinner, the only thing left to do is put the dishes in the dishwasher and wash the sheet pan.
Another reason I like this recipe is that it’s really easy to take some shortcuts if you want or need to. You can easily use pre-cut butternut squash and pomegranate arils already seeded for you, if you like. Likewise, there are a number of things that can be done ahead of time if that suits you: the vinaigrette, prepping the greens, cutting the squash, and seeding the pomegranate — all weeknight wins in my book!
These are the ingredients you will need to make this satisfying Salad with Roasted Chicken and Squash:
Chicken thighs – I prefer to use bone-in and skin-on thighs for this recipe, as I believe that the flavor is greatly enhanced by both. You can substitute boneless, skinless thighs if you prefer.
Pears – Be sure to use firm pears for this recipe. Pears that are too ripe will become a mushy mess when roasted. I typically find that Bosc and red pears are best for this.
Butternut squash – if you can’t find a small or medium squash, you can use half of a larger one. Remember to cut the pieces into similar sizes to ensure even cooking. You could also buy pre-cut butternut squash if you don’t have the time to peel and cut it.
Stilton cheese – my love for Stilton is strong, but you can substitute any blue cheese that you love. I do encourage you to try the blue cheese – it really is such a lovely complement to this dish. There’s not enough to be forward, just enough to add a mellow layer underneath.
Greens – I chose hearty kale and then a lighter, but still sturdy lettuce, but you are welcome to try any combination that suits your tastes. I find that by adding a second lettuce to the kale, the kiddos are much more apt to try it.
HOW TO MAKE SHEET PAN SALAD WITH CHICKEN, PEARS & SQUASH: STEP-BY-STEP
Steps 1 & 2: Cut a thin layer off the top and bottom of the squash so that you have a flat surface on both ends. Cut the squash in half, and peel each half with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler.
Steps 3 & 4: Cut the squash again lenthwise into strips and then cut them crosswise into chunks.
Cut the pears in half lengthwise and then remove the core. Cut them into wedges so that you have 3 wedges per half of pear.
Steps 5 & 6: Coat the chicken, squash and pears with olive oil and season them generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes.
In the meantime, make the vinaigrette.
Steps 7 & 8: Prepare the greens by removing the stems from the kale and then cutting the leaves into 1 inch ribbons and then cutting those crosswise into smaller bite-sized pieces.
For the little gem lettuces, trim the bottom of each head and then remove the leaves, keeping them whole.
Steps 9 & 10: Remove the sheet pan from the oven and sprinkle the Stilton over everything, allowing it to melt.
Dress the greens and spread them out on a large plater. Top with the roasted chicken, squash, pears and stilton and then sprinkle with pomegranate arils, fresh parsely, and a drizzle of any remaining vinaigrette.
Handy tip: Prepare Ahead!
You can make the vinaigrette ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.
You can peel and cut the squash ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.
Be sure to cut the squash pieces the same size. I fully recognize that peeling and cutting butternut squash is not the easiest task in the world. However, it is really important that you do your best to cut the squash into similar sizes to ensure uniform cooking. Otherwise you will end up with some pieces over-cooked and others under-cooked.
Be sure to use firm, even slightly under-ripe pears. The roasted pears in this dish add so much flavor and texture – so be sure to select the correct firmness, so you don’t end up with a mushy mess.
STORAGE & REHEATING
Storage: Store the greens and the roasted parts of the dish separately in airtight containers. The greens in this dish are very hearty and can definitely be enjoyed the following day for lunch.
Reheating: You can reheat this in the oven by preheating an oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees and putting everything on a pan with a splash of water and covered in foil for about 15 minutes. Continue to warm it up uncovered for for another 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can also reheat it in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it is warmed through.
Freezing: You can freeze the chicken, squash and pears (but not the greens) in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat as outlined above.
ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- Other fresh herbs: For another layer of brightness, add some chopped mint leaves to the top of the finished salad.
- Marinate the chicken: If using boneless skinless chicken thighs, consider marinating the chicken in olive oil, chopped garlic or garlic powder, onion powder, and a little smoked paprika.
- Fresh orange zest: To add another layer of orange in this dish, add a sprinkling of fresh orange zest at the end.
- Squash: you could use acorn, honeynut, or delicata squash instead of butternut squash.
- Other root vegetables: in place of squash, you could consider carrots, parsnips, beets or other root vegetables that you like
- Chicken breast: If you prefer to use chicken breast, you will likely needs to adjust your roasting time 5-10 minutes shorter, depending on the thickness of the chicken breast.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I hope you love this Easy Sheet Pan Salad with Chicken, Pears and Squash!
If you make it, be sure to leave a comment and rating below so I know how you liked it!
Easy Sheet Pan Salad with Chicken, Pears and Squash
- 4-6 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 butternut squash (small to medium)
- 2 pears
- 1 bunch kale
- 4 little gem lettuces (or something similar)
- 4 oz Stilton cheese (or other blue cheese)
- 1 pomegranate (arils/seeds)
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
- 1 orange (zest & juice)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic (grated)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Prep the squash. Cut a thin layer off the top and bottom of the squash and then cut the butternut squash in half crosswise, to make it more manageable. Stand one half of the squash up and using a sharp knife, cut from the top to the bottom to remove the skin. Repeat this with the other half. Next, cut each half of the squash lengthwise and from there, cut the squash into large 1 inch chunks. Repeat this with the second half, making sure to remove any seeds.
- Prep the pears. Do not peel the pears. Cut them in half lengthwise, straight through the core. Using a melon baller or a small spoon, remove the core and seeds, and then further cut the pear into 6 total wedges.
- On a sheet pan, combine the squash and pears and drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season them generously with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken thighs to the sheet pan, nesting them in between the pears and squash and brush them with the remaining olive oil and season them well on both sides with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes.
- Make the vinaigrette by combining the zest and juice of the orange, mustard, garlic, red wine vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Season it with salt and pepper and whisk it well. When the salt has dissolved, whisk in the olive oil and set it aside.
- To prep the greens, remove the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Cut the kale leaves crosswise into 1/2 inch ribbons and then cut them crosswise into smaller bite-sized pieces. For the little gem lettuces, trim the bottom of each head and remove the full leaves, leaving them whole.
- Add the greens to a large bowl and dress them with the vinaigrette – this will give the kale some time to break down – then transfer them to a large platter.
- When the chicken and vegetables are done, remove the sheet pan from the oven and sprinkle it all over with the Stilton, allowing it to melt a bit.
- Top the dressed greens with the chicken, pears and squash.
- Top everything with pomegranate arils and fresh parsley. ENJOY!
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will lend superior flavor to this dish – but you can substitute boneless, skinless if you prefer.
- Be sure to cut the squash pieces the same size to ensure uniform cooking.
- You can substitute a different blue cheese if you prefer, such as gorgonzola or Maytag Blue. You can also substitute something like goat cheese for the blue cheese altogether.