This vibrant roasted butternut squash salad features kale, dried cranberries and roasted walnuts in an easy balsamic dressing.
As you may or may not know, I love kale. It’s loaded with good-for-you nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and K, and a host of antioxidants. I’ll add kale to just about any dish, but I think salads are where kale really shines.
This recipe is basically vintage at this point! I made it in 2012 for a Thanksgiving party and it was such a hit that I shared it on the blog. Since then, the photos have gotten a few face lifts, but the recipe has stayed the same. I’m sharing it again because it’s such a good recipe, I think it needs more time in the spotlight!
Butternut Squash Salad Ingredients
lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale) – I love using lacinto kale in this recipe! If you’re not a huge fan of kale, I recommend starting with lacinto kale. It’s a little more mild tasting in my opinion!
dried cranberries – These add just the right amount of sweetness to this salad!
walnuts – you could use any type of nut you’d prefer, but I really love the way walnuts taste in this salad.
bell pepper – any color will do. I like using red, orange or yellow.
The first step of this recipe is to make the roasted butternut squash. This step takes the longest so be sure to start this first!
You’ll start by preheating your oven to 400ºF. Cut the bottom of your squash to create a stable base and then use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. After peeling, cut off the top of the squash and then cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon.
Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes and toss the in olive oil and sea salt. Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. The butternut squash is ready when all of the pieces are tender and some have brown spots.
Assembling the Salad
Toast walnuts – while the butternut squash is roasting, toast the walnuts on a separate baking sheet for 6-8 minutes in the oven heated to 400ºF. Remove and let cool before chopping into bite sized pieces.
Prep kale – Stack the kale leaves and roll into tight bundles. Use a sharp knife to slice the rolls thinly to create shredded pieces.
Rehydrate cranberries – Pour 1/2 cup of water over the cranberries and leave them to soften until you’re ready to toss the salad. You’ll drain the water before adding the cranberries to the salad. (This step is optional.)
Make dressing – Whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper in your salad bowl.
Assemble – Add all of the salad ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. The longer the kale marinates, the softer it will become.
Prep squash: Prepare the squash by peeling it, cutting it in half and scraping out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes, toss them 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet.
Roast squash: Roast the squash for 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice, until all the pieces are tender and some have brown spots.
Toast walnuts: While roasting the squash, toast the walnuts on a separate baking sheet for about 6-8 minutes in the 400° oven.
Cool: Remove both items from oven when finished cooking and let cool. Once walnuts are cool enough to handle, chop them into bite-size pieces.
Slice kale: While butternut is roasting, stack the kale leaves and roll them into tight bundles, then slice very thinly with a sharp knife to create shredded pieces.
Soften cranberries: Pour 1/2 cup of water over the cranberries and leave them to soften until you are ready to toss the salad. Drain before adding to the salad. (This step is optional).
Make dressing: In your salad bowl, whisk together dressing by combining olive oil, balsamic, sea salt and pepper. Add all the remaining salad ingredients and toss everything together. Let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Serve cold or at room temp.
Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last 1-2 days.