Harvest Fall Salad

This cozy fall salad combines baby kale, roasted kabocha squash, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta all tossed in a tangy apple cider vinegar dressing.

I didn’t eat a ton of kale growing up, but it’s now one of my all-time favorite veggies and I have a ton of kale recipes here on EBF. Today I’m adding to the list this fall salad featuring baby kale and a bunch of my other fall favorites – roasted kabocha squash, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta. To top it off, a cinnamon apple cider vinegar dressing. You know how much I love apple cider vinegar. I couldn’t leave it off this salad!

An overhead photo of a bowl of kale topped with 3 slices of roasted kabocha squash and scattered with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta. A fork rests in the bowl.

The colors and flavors make it lovely for fall. And if your tastebuds are anything like mine, you’re going to LOVE it.

Most salads I post here are meal-sized salads, but this one is a bit on the lighter side. You could certainly add some beans or a whole grain to this salad to make it a full meal or pair it with a cup of soup or top it with some protein. If you did smaller portions, it would be great as a starter salad too.

A whole kabocha squash on a marble countertop.

What is Kabocha Squash?

Often called a Japanese Pumpkin, kabocha squash is the sweetest winter squash variety that I’ve found, even sweeter than my other favorite, butternut squash. The texture is smooth and creamy but hearty enough to roast — basically a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. The best part is that the skin is completely edible (aka tender after baking!) so you don’t have to peel it before or after roasting.

When looking for kabocha squash, pick one that feels heavy for its size, is firm and without bruises. The squash is shaped like a flatter pumpkin and is usually green with light stripes or spots.

Ingredients measured out to make a harvest fall salad: baby kale, spiced pepitas, feta, kabocha squash, olive oil, apple cider dressing and dried cranberries.

Here’s What You Need

  • baby kale – you can absolutely use regular kale but baby kale is more mild, tender and perfect for the base of this salad. It’s packed with vitamins A, K and C as well as manganese, calcium and potassium. Any leafy green will also work here!
  • kabocha squash – no need to peel this squash before cooking! After roasting, the squash is caramelized, slightly sweet and the perfect addition to this salad. If you can’t find kabocha squash, you can also use roasted butternut squash, acorn squash, buttercup squash or even roasted sweet potatoes.
  • olive oil – for roasting the squash.
  • dried cranberries – use unsweetened or fruit sweetened dried cranberries if possible. They’ll still add a hint of sweetness to this salad! If you don’t have dried cranberries on hand feel free to swap it with any dried fruit! I could also see fresh apples or fresh figs being a nice addition!
  • pumpkin spiced pepitas – I highly recommend making these pumpkin spiced pepitas (they’re SO good!), but normal roasted pumpkin seeds or raw pepitas work as well.
  • feta – feta adds a slightly salty and creamy texture to the salad. If you want a vegan or dairy-free salad you can omit or use a dairy-free cheese!
Tip!
Want to enjoy this as a meal-sized salad? Add any grains, beans or protein of your choice! I could see this salad being delicious with quinoa, roasted chickpeas, this maple balsamic tempeh or apple cider vinegar chicken. 

ACV Dressing

I’m obsessed with this dressing! There’s a hint of cinnamon which pairs perfectly with this salad. Here’s what you need for the dressing:

  • apple cider vinegar –  this is the star of the show here. When shopping for ACV, look for a brand that’s unpasteurized with “the mother” included. This is where all the nutrients are. I personally recommend Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. It’s organic, raw and the best of the best.
  • fresh orange juice – use freshly squeeze orange juice for the best flavor but if you’re in a pinch, store-bought orange juice works too.
  • olive oil – the neutral flavor of olive oil helps to balance the tartness of the apple cider vinegar and gives the dressing some healthy fat.
  • Dijon mustard – adds a little zest to the dressing and also acts as an emulsifier.
  • garlic – fresh garlic adds a ton of yummy garlic flavor and aroma to the dressing.
  • cinnamon – the secret ingredient that makes this dressing extra “fall” flavored.
  • sea salt and pepper – to taste and bring all of the flavors of the salad together.
Three photos: a whole kabocha squash, the squash cut into half-ring shapes and then the roasted squash on a plate.

How to Meal Prep this Fall Salad

This salad can easily be meal prepped. Here’s what I would do:

  1. Roast the squash and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients and store in an airtight container. I like mixing in a mason jar so I can easily shake and recombine before assembling the salad.
  3. Roast the pumpkin seeds. Allow to cool completely before storing.
  4. When you’re ready to assemble the salad, you can reheat the squash if you’d like but I also like it cold! Build your salad and top with dressing.
A bowl filled with kale topped with roasted kabocha squash, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta. A fork rests in the bowl. In the background there are two additional bowls holding more kale and some pumpkin seeds. There is a little bowl in the foreground of cranberries.

More Kabocha Squash Recipes

Harvest Fall Salad

4 from 8 votes
This cozy fall salad combines baby kale, roasted kabocha squash, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta all tossed in a tangy apple cider vinegar dressing.
An overhead photo of a bowl of kale topped with 3 slices of roasted kabocha squash and scattered with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta. A fork rests in the bowl.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups baby kale,
  • ½ medium kabocha squash
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pumpkin spiced pepitas
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta

Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, more if needed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more if needed

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Wash the outside of the kabocha squash with warm water. Cut the squash in half and scoop out all the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch semicircles. Toss the squash pieces with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and spread on a roasting pan.
    Slices of kabocha squash on a baking pan drizzled with oil.
  • Roast the squash for 15 minutes, remove from oven to toss, then roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until tender and golden.
    Freshly roasted kabocha squash slices piled on a plate. The plate is surrounded by other small bowls with cranberries and feta.
  • While squash is roasting, prepare the dressing by placing all ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk until combined, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
  • To prepare the salads, place a portion of the kale on a plate, top with a portion of cranberries, pepitas and feta. Add the roasted kabocha slices, drizzle with desired amount of dressing and serve.
    An overhead photo of a bowl of kale topped with 3 slices of roasted kabocha squash and scattered with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta. A fork rests in the bowl.

Notes

  • Baby kale: You can use regular kale or your favorite leafy green. 
  • Kabocha squash: If you can’t find kabocha squash you can also use roasted butternut squash, acorn squash, buttercup squash or even roasted sweet potatoes.
  • Pumpkin spiced pepitas: Normal roasted pumpkin seeds or raw pepitas work as well.
  • Dried cranberries: If you don’t have dried cranberries on hand feel free to swap it with any dried fruit. I could also see fresh apples or fresh figs being a nice addition!
  • Dairy-free/vegan: If you want a vegan or dairy-free salad you can omit the feta cheese or use a dairy-free cheese!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/2 of recipe Calories: 472kcal Carbohydrates: 22g Protein: 10g Fat: 41g Saturated Fat: 5g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Monounsaturated Fat: 21g Sodium: 788mg Potassium: 821mg Fiber: 6g Sugar: 7g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fall salad

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    108 comments
    1. Annie
      October 8, 2014 AT 8:04 pm

      Kale Chips

    2. Andrea Rust
      October 7, 2014 AT 11:47 pm

      I love baby kale in my smoothies and I love to make kale chips!

    3. Megan
      October 6, 2014 AT 11:05 pm

      Kale chips!

    4. Calli
      October 5, 2014 AT 11:28 pm

      I like kale juiced with apples and ginger!

    5. Jennifer
      October 5, 2014 AT 7:03 pm

      I love eating kale in a slaw-type salad with thinly sliced cabbage, carrots, cranberries, mixed with some rice to make it more filling and poppyseed dressing!

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