A seasonal autumn salad featuring roasted butternut squash and hearty kale. Then tossed in the most flavorful rosemary-infused maple-balsamic dressing! (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
This Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad is lovely when the weather starts to chill.
It is a great seasonal side dish and a healthy option for autumn, Thanksgiving, and holidays.
The textures are great, plus the vibrant colors look so festive!
Ingredients for Salad
For the salad portion you will need:
- 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 need:
- 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.
- Garlic clove
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh rosemary
The rosemary-infused maple balsamic dressing is what makes this recipe shine. I also use it on other salads for a wonderful addition of flavor.
Roasting the Squash
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!
However, you can also drizzle the cubes with olive oil (and optional salt and pepper) before baking if desired.
Serving and Storage
If you are making the salad ahead of time, feel free to store the dressing and salad separately. Then toss together before serving to keep it fresh and crisp.
Kale tends to hold up pretty well, however. So you can certainly toss it with the dressing and let it marinate in the fridge beforehand. The flavors will beautifully intensify this way.
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)
If you are enjoying this Kale and Butternut Squash Salad, also check out:
- Vegan Mini Meatloaf
- 15-Minute Miso-Glazed Green Beans
- Roasted Vegetable Panini with Pesto
- Balsamic Green Bean Salad