This seasonal autumn salad features roasted butternut squash and hearty kale. Then it's tossed in the most flavorful rosemary-infused maple-balsamic dressing! (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
This Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad is a bowl of seasonal goodness using some of autumn's best produce!
It's tossed in a delicious maple balsamic dressing accented with fresh rosemary.
The textures are wonderful plus the vibrant colors look so festive! Plus it's filled with fresh, nourishing plant-based ingredients.
It makes a great fall side dish and can also be a healthy option for Thanksgiving and holidays.
Ingredients for Salad
For the salad portion you will toss together:
- Kale: I use lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale) for this recipe. But you can substitute curly kale if desired. I gently massage the kale in a bowl to help tenderize and soften.
- Butternut squash: You will need about 2 cups cubed squash, so you can either cut your own from a whole squash, or buy pre-cubed squash.
- Dried cranberries
- Pumpkin seeds/pepita seeds
Ingredients for Dressing
For the maple-balsamic dressing you will whisk together in a small bowl or jar:
- Balsamic vinegar: I prefer the taste of balsamic for this dressing, but you could try apple cider vinegar or lemon juice instead.
- Pure maple syrup: This adds natural sweetness, plus delicious maple flavor.
- Fresh garlic clove: I like the taste of fresh garlic in this recipe, but you can substitute with dried garlic powder if desired.
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh rosemary
- Salt: I use fine grain salt for this recipe. Adjust the amount based on your own taste however.
Note: The rosemary-infused maple balsamic dressing is what makes this recipe shine. I also use it on other salads for an instant boost of flavor and freshness!
Roasting the Squash
Oil free tips: I use an oil-free roasting method for my butternut squash. Simply line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then roast in the oven to tender, buttery perfection!
Olive oil option: If you prefer to roast yours with oil, simple drizzle and toss the squash cubes with a tablespoon or so of good quality olive oil before baking if desired.
Serving and Storing
Making ahead: If you are preparing the salad ahead of time, feel free to store the dressing and salad separately. Then toss together before serving. This helps keep it fresh and crisp.
Kale usually holds up pretty well, however. So you can certainly toss it with the dressing and let it marinate in the fridge beforehand if desired! The flavors will beautifully intensify this way.
For more inspiration, also browse all oil-free recipes or fall recipes.
Butternut Squash & Kale Salad with Maple-Balsamic Dressing
- 1 large bunch kale (I use dinosaur/lacinato)
- 2 cups butternut squash (cubed)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds
For the maple-balsamic dressing:
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced (or more to taste)
- 1/8 tsp. salt (more/less to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Prepare the butternut squash: Slice off each end, cut vertically in half, and remove the seeds. Peel and cube squash into about 3/4" chunks. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and arrange squash cubes in a single layer. Salt/pepper to taste if desired (or other seasonings if you wish).
- Roast for 30-35 minutes (or to desired tenderness), stirring halfway through.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: Mince garlic and fresh rosemary (stems removed). Add all dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and alter flavors if desired. (Salt, more maple syrup for sweetness, more rosemary, etc.) Set aside.
- Tear or slice kale into bite-sized pieces (stems removed). Place in a large bowl. Gently massage to soften.
- Pour dressing over kale and massage again to incorporate. Set aside and let marinate for a few minutes.
- When squash is done baking, add to kale and gently toss. Sprinkle cranberries and pepitas on top. (Or try it with some Maple-Vanilla Candied Nuts.)
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
If you are enjoying this Kale and Butternut Squash Salad, also check out:
- Vegan Mini Meatloaf with Maple-Balsamic Glaze
- Miso-Glazed Green Beans
- Roasted Vegetable Panini with Pesto
- Balsamic Green Bean Salad
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Just made this salad for lunch and holy amazing!!!! The dressing has such great flavor. New favorite fall salad.
So great to hear! Thanks, Julie!
I am in love with this! That dressing...so good! I used pecans and added apple and goat cheese. Oh, and I didn't have rosemary and it was still amazing. Very adaptable. Thanks!!!
Wonderful to hear you enjoyed, Kari! Thanks so much for your kind and helpful feedback!