Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad

by Leah Hadad on September 19, 2014

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a wonderful dish to serve in autumn, when gourd and pomegranate are in season. I developed this dish for Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year. Like many Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from around the globe, I preserve the 2000-year-old tradition of serving and blessing an array of ceremonial foods at the Rosh Hashannah Seder, which is called Yehi Ratzon, or May It Be, Seder. The blessing for each of the ceremonial foods bejeweling the table is an expression of a wish for the New Year. Gourd symbolizes a wish for happiness. My late mother, a Yemenite Jew, boiled chunks of pumpkin in salt water. It was simply prepared, but we loved it! My butternut squash dish incorporates two other Rosh Hashannah ceremonial foods -- pomegranates and honey, a wish for good deeds and a wish for sweetness, respectively. Other ceremonial foods include dates (peace), apple in honey (sweetness), green beans or black-eyed pea (prosperity), beets (freedom), leeks (friendships) and meat from the head of a lamb or, for vegetarians, a head of lettuce (leadership). It is the custom to serve these ceremonial foods family-style in small bowls to be passed around the table for guests to share after each blessing is recited. I serve samples of each food in individual salad plates and call it a first course. After you go through this plate you can forgo serving a salad course. We place the individual plate on the table for the participants just before the guests arrive. The colorful richness of the season’s bounty sparkles on the festive holiday table, making it extra special for the coming New Year. Add this salad to cooked quinoa or buckwheat groats (kasha) to serve in any automn luncheon or dinner buffet. May we all be blessed with sweetness, prosperity, peace, freedom and friendship always.
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 pound butternut squash (4 cups), peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pomegranate
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butternut squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil and kosher salt in a 9x13-inch roasting pan, mix and roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally for even roasting. Test with a fork to check that it is done. It should be cooked through, but still firm. While the squash is roasting, seed the pomegranate and chop the cilantro. For dressing, stir together remaining tablespoon olive oil, pomegranate molasses, honey, pepper and salt in a small bowl and blend well to incorporate. Once the squash is cooked and cooled, mix with pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Sprinkle the ground coriander on top. Gradually add dressing to squash mixture, mix, taste and adjust flavors as desired.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Adele Weinstein September 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Where do I buy pomegranate molasses in Thornhill Ontario. Could I substitute POM juice?


Tribes-A-Dozen September 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Reduce the POM juice before using in the recipe. Alternatively substitute balsamic vinegar.


Elisa September 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Many thanks for sharing this recipe, Leah. It’s become a family favorite. L’shanah tovah to all.


Tribes-A-Dozen September 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I am so glad to hear, Elisa! Thank you for the feedback. L’shanah Tova to you and yours!


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