This butternut squash recipe for roasted butternut squash and kale salad is one of those recipes that you’ll reach for again and again, whether you mean to or not. It’s great as a one-dish meal or as a potluck contribution, with its hearty greens, filling roasted veg and crunchy toasted pecans.
I love butternut squash. It has all the sweetness of sweet potato, but without too much sticky-sweetness, which can sometimes overwhelm a dish when you’re using roasted sweet potato. The problem is that I’m always at a little bit of a loss as to what to do with it other than making a soup out of it.
That’s why this butternut squash recipe is so lovely — it celebrates the delicate creaminess of butternut squash without having to obliterate it in a food processor. Adding roasted vegetables to salads, especially in winter, adds heartiness without bulk. Plus, roasting brings out that coveted natural sweetness of butternut squash, and the edges of each piece caramelize nicely for added crunch.
The best part of this butternut squash and kale salad is how it marries so nicely with crunchy toasted pecans and dried cranberries. The cranberries balance the sweet squash with their tartness, and if I’m serving this at home, I toast the pecans last and add them to the salad while they’re still warm. Those warm pecans are like a hug in a bowl. Honestly.
- 2 cups (250g) packed curly kale, rinsed
- 1 small butternut squash
- ½ cup (80g) dried cranberries
- ½ cup (80g) pecan halves
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup (50ml) plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- If you haven't already, cut the kale lengthwise to remove the stiff stems from each leaf. Chop the kale roughly into bite-sized pieces. Rinse the kale in a colander and set aside to dry.
- Wash the squash and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Cut off the ends of the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into ½-inch pieces.
- Add the squash to a bowl and drizzle in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss the squash to coat the pieces in the olive oil, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the squash over the foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Zest the lemon into a small bowl and cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice out into the bowl, then whisk it together with the mustard. Continue whisking as you drizzle in the remaining olive oil to make a vinaigrette.
- Toss the kale into a large bowl and drizzle the vinaigrette over. Stir to cover the kale with the vinaigrette, then add the cranberries. Set everything aside.
- Put a dry, medium-sized skillet on the stove on medium to medium-low heat. Add the pecans and toast, stirring and watching the pecans carefully so they don't scorch. When the pecans turn darker brown and smell really good, take the pecans off the heat and add them to the salad.
- Add the butternut squash and serve immediately, or leave at room temperature for up to 2 hours before serving.
Looking for other salad recipes? Check out these great ideas:
- Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Saturday Caprese Salad
- Simple French Carrot Salad
- Celery, Apple & Mint Slaw