Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

It’s Friday!

I know what you might be thinking: It’s almost the weekend, so forget about eating healthy and bring on the nachos/beer/pizza/brownies/ice cream.

I’d be willing to bet that most people have this mindset as the school/workweek winds down – and I see no problem with a couple of weekend indulgences – but why not fit a super healthy meal in somewhere between the syrup-saturated Saturday morning pancakes and Sunday afternoon football snacks?

Such as this salad consisting of massaged kale and roasted butternut squash.

So many autumnal dishes we’re drawn to are heavy and calorie-laden, as we instinctively bulk up for the colder months, but don’t let the cooler temperatures chase away any thought of salad that may be lingering around from summer.

Luckily, some of my favorite foods that come into season around now just so happen to be nutritious and perfect in a salad.

Massaged kale isn’t a new concept. In fact I made my Massaged Kale Salad with Mango & Avocado numerous times over the course of spring & summer. I’m changing things up this time around, using sweet roasted butternut squash and my Pumpkin Cider Vinaigrette for a more seasonal massaged kale salad.

This salad would be a great addition to any fall dinner, but it can also stand alone as a light lunch. If you’re looking for more of an entree salad, add a few tablespoons of crumbled goat or blue cheese, a small handful of chopped roasted pecans or walnuts, and a scattering of dried cranberries.


Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

by Lauren Zembron

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: roast entree main salad side vegetarian vegan kale butternut squash Thanksgiving fall

Ingredients (4 servings)

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 2 cups peeled & cubed butternut squash (I prefer smaller cubes)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 tightly packed cups washed & torn kale leaves (discard stems) (I used organic red kale)

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Cider Vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tbsp pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp course ground Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss the cubed butternut squash with olive oil and season to taste with salt & pepper. Turn out in an even layer onto a baking sheet or dish and roast until soft and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes, depending on size of cubes, stirring once.

About 10 minutes prior to the squash being done, make the vinaigrette by whisking together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette. With your hands, massage the kale until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

Toss roasted squash with the massaged kale and dress the salad with the remaining vinaigrette.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

177.8 calories, 7.9 grams fat, 1.0 grams saturated fat, 8.2 grams fiber, 4.2 grams sugars, 5.8 grams protein

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14 thoughts on “Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

  1. I know what you mean about needing a healthy meal thrown in there. It’s 1:30 on Saturday and I already have a tummy ache because I made cupcakes this morning (for a friend’s shower) and ate way too much chocolate and frosting! oops! My body is totally gonna need something like this once it’s time to eat again :)

  2. omg, this is fabulous. sounds like what i eat all the time in the winter months, although i don’t usually do dressing, i’m going to have to give this one a try :)

  3. I stumbled upon this and made it with some *slightly* less healthy additions: I roasted the butternut squash with a little brown sugar added, and I added feta to the final salad- the feta worked really nicely with the kale and squash. Also cheated slightly on the dressing and combined what I had on hand: cider vinegar/ balsamic reduction/ lemon/ dijon/ olive oil/ s&p.

    In any case, it was all amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Can I make this ahead of time with the dressing and just put toppings on it when I am ready to eat? I would love to ,make this for work in the week but don’t think it will be socially acceptable to massage kale anywhere but in the kitchen…

    Thanks, great recipe!


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