How to Whip up a Salad With Crunch, Creaminess, and Spice When You’re Short on Time

squash cashew spinach salad
Photo: Naomi Twigden & Anna Pinder
lunchbox salads book
Photo: Naomi Twigden & Anna Pinder

When it comes to crafting creative salads, Naomi Twigden has more than a few tricks up her sleeve—more than 100 actually, as showcased in her new book, Lunchbox Salads. And the best part: All are made with ten ingredients or less and take fewer than 30 minutes to make.

Take, for instance, this squash, cashew, and spinach salad. Sauteed squash and onion get tossed with spinach, pomegranates, and cashews before being topped with a tahini dressing. “The inspiration for this recipe came from the ingredients I found in curries whilst traveling in India,” says Twigden. “The pomegranate adds a burst of fruitiness which works well with the sweet squash and red onion and nutty tahini.”

When it comes to transporting salads to work, one of Twigden’s top tips is keeping the salad dressing separate. “Line a mug with cling wrap, pour in the salad dressing, and tie the top in a knot. Store the makeshift baggie in your tupperware and pierce it when you are ready to eat,” she suggests. She also recommends adding salad leaves and fresh herbs on top of your lunch box in the morning so they stay fresh for as long as possible.

Squash, Cashew + Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing

Add a rating
  • Prep Time
    8 minutes
  • Cook Time
    20 minutes
  • Servings


For the salad

For the dressing


  1. Boil a full tea kettle of water.

  2. Peel and dice the onion. In a large pan over low heat, fry with a little oil until soft, about ten minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, peel the squash and chop into 1-inch chunks, discarding the seeds. Place in a separate pan with a pinch of salt and cover with boiled water. Cook for five minutes until just soft. Drain.

  4. Add the squash and a little more oil to the onion. Turn up the heat and fry for two to three minutes until slightly golden. Remove the onion and squash and cool.

  5. Wipe the pan dry. Lightly crush the nuts, then toast in the dry pan for two minutes until golden brown.

  6. Whisk the dressing ingredients together with one teaspoon water and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. To pack: Mix the squash and onion with the nuts and spoon into two lunchboxes. Top with the pomegranate seeds and spinach. Pack the dressing separately.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from Lunchbox Salads: More than 100 Fast, Fresh Filling Salads for Every Weekday by Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder. Copyright © 2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. For more salad inspo, check out this twist on a Caesar salad and Paleo Thai beef salad

Loading More Posts...