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Kale Salad with Apples and Roasted Butternut Squash

Kale Apple and Butternut Salad in a white serving bowl
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Win­ter Kale Sal­ad with Apples and Roast­ed But­ter­nut Squash is as love­ly as it is deli­cious. Pops of white, red, pur­ple and orange cre­ate a beau­ti­ful dis­play against the leafy greens. It will be the most deli­cious cen­ter­piece of any din­ner table. And friends, if sal­ad can be com­fort food (Pssst … it can!), THIS sal­ad def­i­nite­ly is!

This delec­table sal­ad makes use of pro­duce that’s read­i­ly avail­able in the win­ter months. The recipe has a well-bal­anced com­bi­na­tion of tex­tures. Light­ly caramelized and ten­der but­ter­nut squash, crisp apple slices and crunchy pecans rest on a bed of torn kale and sliv­ered red onion. My win­ter kale sal­ad real­ly IS the whole pack­age — fla­vor, tex­ture and beauty.

Kale and Apple Sal­ad is a refresh­ing and nour­ish­ing side along­side chick­en, pork or beef dish­es. You could even add pro­tein in the form of meat or beans to cre­ate a sal­ad that becomes a hearty meal, if you prefer. 

It’s nat­u­ral­ly gluten and dairy free and con­tains no refined sugars. 

Addi­tion­al­ly, all that deli­cious pro­duce is dressed up with a tart-sweet lemon pop­py seed vinai­grette which is a per­fect com­ple­ment to this easy win­ter kale sal­ad. It’s light­ly sweet and acidic fla­vors bal­ance any rich or heavy dish­es else­where in your meal.

Enjoy my Kale Sal­ad with Apples recipe, my friend. “Good for you” can be absolute­ly delicious!

Kale Butternut and Apple Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

It’s Winter. Why Salad?

Why not? What is it about sal­ads? I LOVE them so much! I could live on tru­ly excel­lent sal­ads and home­made bread and be hap­py all the rest of my days. 

And I’m not talk­ing about a hand­ful of ice­berg let­tuce with some sal­ad dress­ing. (Though I love ice­berg and it does have its place.) I mean a sal­ad loaded with the best in sea­son­al greens, veg­eta­bles and fruit. A sal­ad that is beau­ti­ful and stud­ded with ingre­di­ents that have dif­fer­ent tex­tures and a vari­ety of fla­vors. A sal­ad that makes you feel nour­ished, restored and satisfied.

A bed of greens and veg­gies is the per­fect place to add eggs, fruit, nuts, meat and cheese, too. (And don’t for­get the crusty bread or some home­made crou­tons!) Tru­ly good sal­ads can be a whole meal. The very best of good sal­ads are the ones you want to eat again and again. 

Kale Butternut and Apple Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

When my kids, (who now have kids of their own), were small, I used to say, “Let’s make a love­ly sal­ad.” And they knew exact­ly what I meant. It was going to have EVERYTHING in it. And, it was going to be deli­cious. Now, I make “love­ly sal­ads” with my grand­kids. It’s a good fam­i­ly tra­di­tion to pass along.

Win­ter Kale Sal­ad with Apples and But­ter­nut Squash is def­i­nite­ly a “love­ly sal­ad”. While the ingre­di­ents may not seem like a com­mon pair­ing at first glance, your mind will be blown when you taste this deli­cious dish. Let’s take a look at what’s in it.

The Ingredients

Fresh Kale: I like to buy it by the bunch. I find that the already cut and bagged kale at the store is rarely pre­pared prop­er­ly, is loaded with the tough woody stem pieces and has dried out ter­ri­bly. Buy fresh kale, by the bunch, and you’ll nev­er be dis­ap­point­ed. It’s easy to prep. I’ll show you how, below.

fresh kale leaves in a glass of water

Frozen But­ter­nut Squash: This is a con­ve­nience item for me. I can buy it in 10 oz. bags in the freez­er sec­tion at my local store. It saves me hav­ing to peel, seed and cube a but­ter­nut squash. You can do the same thing with fresh but­ter­nut squash if you like. The cook­ing time will just be longer than with the frozen. 2 cups of fresh squash cubes will be plen­ty, if you decide to substitute.

Hon­ey Crisp (or Gala) Apple: I love these two because they are crisp vari­eties and have a good bal­ance of sweet and tart in their fla­vor. Any of your favorite eat­ing apples will work. 

Red Onion: You won’t need much. Just one very thin slice you can sep­a­rate into rings.

Pecans: Nuts are great crunch and tex­ture in a sal­ad. Plus, they add pro­tein and healthy fats, which help you feel full longer. I chose pecans because they’re my favorite. Use what you like best.

Avo­ca­do Oil and salt & pep­per : A Table­spoon of oil and a sprin­kling of salt and pep­per to toss the squash in is all you’ll need to get the squash roast­ed to perfection.

Dress­ing: Use any of your favorite sal­ad dress­ings for this yum­my Kale and Apple Sal­ad, but I high­ly rec­om­mend my sim­ple Lemon Pop­py Seed Vinai­grette. It’s bright and citrus‑y and pairs beau­ti­ful­ly with the sal­ad ingre­di­ents. The recipe is includ­ed in the card, below.

How to Prepare Kale for Making Salad

Kale is a hearty dark green that stands up to cook­ing bet­ter than any oth­er I can think of. It also makes deli­cious sal­ads if you prep it cor­rect­ly. Plus the earthy fla­vor can accom­mo­date heav­ier sea­son­ings and accompaniments.

When not prop­er­ly stored or pre­pared, raw kale can be rough and dry. Some­times, peo­ple don’t real­ize how unpleas­ant the thick stems can be and often make the mis­take of chop­ping them into their sal­ads or recipes right along with the leaves. 

That won’t be you, though. You’re going to know all the best prac­tices now and will always be able to enjoy your kale at its fresh best.

removing kale leaves from the stems

When you bring fresh kale home, cut 1 to 2 inch­es off the bot­tom of the stems and then place them in a glass or con­tain­er of cold water, just like you would with a bou­quet of flow­ers. They will keep and be at their fresh best about three or 4 days in the water (chang­ing out the water each day). The water hydrates the leaves and makes them crunchy and firm.

To prep the kale for sal­ad, tear the leafy greens off the stems. If you start at the top and pull down­ward, the greens will eas­i­ly come away from the stem. I toss the stems in my veg­etable stock freez­er bag and use the leafy greens in recipes.

For this recipe, I want the kale in bite-size pieces. So, I tear the greens into the size I want. I avoid cut­ting any vari­ety of greens with a knife as that tends to cause brown­ing of the edges quicker.

Kale FAQs

Do I Need to Mas­sage Kale?

The short answer is no. If you are going to be using giant pieces of kale in a recipe then it might make sense. It will break down the cel­lu­lose in the leaves and make them more ten­der. How­ev­er if you are tear­ing your kale into small pieces or chop­ping it, it is com­plete­ly unnec­es­sary.

You may have heard some­one talk about “mas­sag­ing” kale. They use salt and oil or cit­rus juice to lit­er­al­ly mas­sage the leaves and make them soft­er. This is NOT my per­son­al pref­er­ence as it yields an almost “wilt­ed greens” tex­ture. I pre­fer crisp and crunchy, well hydrat­ed kale in my sal­ad. You choose what you and your fam­i­ly like best.

Once your kale is removed from the stems, torn into bite-size pieces it’s ready for mak­ing Win­ter Kale Sal­ad with Apples and But­ter­nut Squash. The kale is not mas­saged and it. is. scrump­tious. The acid in the lemon pop­py seed dress­ing ten­der­izes the leaves with­out any need for massaging. 

How to Make Winter Kale Salad with Apples and Roasted Butternut Squash

Roast the Butternut Squash

Start by pre­heat­ing the oven to 425°. Cov­er a rimmed bak­ing sheet with parch­ment paper for easy cleanup. (This isn’t a neces­si­ty, but it makes clean­ing the pan a breeze.)

Pour the frozen but­ter­nut squash cubes into a bowl and break apart any cubes that have stuck togeth­er. Pour the avo­ca­do oil over the squash and sprin­kle with salt and pep­per. Use your hands to toss the cubes until they are all even­ly coat­ed and seasoned.

Pour the squash onto the pre­pared bak­ing sheet, being care­ful that they are arranged in a sin­gle layer.

Bake in the pre­heat­ed oven for about 20 min­utes. The squash cubes should be ten­der when done and some of them will be brown and caramelized on the bottom.

Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool on a cool­ing rack while you prep the rest of the salad.

Prep the Salad Ingredients

Remove the leafy greens of the kale from their stems and tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Place the kale in a bowl.

Core a Hon­ey Crisp or Gala apple. No need to peel it. The peels add beau­ti­ful col­or and vit­a­mins. Cut the apple into thin slices about 1/8″ thick. Add the slices to the sal­ad bowl.

Cut a thin slice of red onion. Like the apple, try to cut it not more than 1/8″ thick. Sep­a­rate the slice into indi­vid­ual rings. If the rings are too large, sim­ply break them into man­age­able strips and then, add them to the bowl.

Pour in the pecans and add the cooled but­ter­nut squash cubes. 

Toss all the ingre­di­ents togeth­er to even­ly dis­trib­ute them through­out the dish.

Make the Vinaigrette

Whisk the vinai­grette ingre­di­ents togeth­er. I mix them right in my mea­sur­ing cup. 

Add 1/2 cup of the Lemon Pop­py Seed Vinai­grette to the sal­ad bowl and toss the Win­ter Kale Sal­ad to coat all the ingre­di­ents. The cit­rus will keep the apples from turn­ing brown and soft­en the kale just enough to be the per­fect tex­ture. Alter­na­tive­ly, you can use a vinai­grette or dress­ing that you prefer.

You guys! You’re going to love this sal­ad. Actu­al­ly, I want to be EATING this sal­ad while I’m typ­ing and adding these pic­tures for you. It’s so good! It tru­ly is a “love­ly sal­ad”. Enjoy!

The Recipe

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Kale Butternut and Apple Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Winter Kale Salad with Apples and Roasted Butternut Squash


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 35 min­utes
  • Yield: 4-6 serv­ings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Kale, apples, roast­ed but­ter­nut squash, pecans and red onions come togeth­er to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful dance of tex­tures and fla­vors in this scrump­tious com­fort food sal­ad.  Tossed with Lemon Pop­py Seed Dress­ing, it bursts with fla­vor that will keep you com­ing back for more.  So sim­ple and so good!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the But­ter­nut Squash:

  • 1 (10 oz.) bag frozen but­ter­nut squash ( or 2 cups but­ter­nut squash, cut into 1″ cubes )
  • 1 Table­spoon avo­ca­do oil
  • salt and pep­per, to taste

For the Salad:

  • 3-4 cups kale leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small hon­ey crisp (or gala) apple, cored and cut into thin slices
  • 1 thin slice red onion, sep­a­rat­ed into sticks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup avo­ca­do oil
  • 1/4 cup raw unfil­tered honey
  • 1/2 tea­spoon pop­py seeds
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

For the But­ter­nut Squash:

  1. Pre­heat the oven to 425° and cov­er a rimmed bak­ing sheet with parch­ment paper. (This isn’t a neces­si­ty, but it makes clean­ing the pan a breeze.)
  2. Pour the frozen but­ter­nut squash cubes into a bowl and break apart any cubes that have stuck togeth­er. Pour the avo­ca­do oil over the squash and sprin­kle with salt and pep­per. Use your hands to toss the cubes until they are all even­ly coat­ed and seasoned.
  3. Pour the squash onto the pre­pared bak­ing sheet, being care­ful that they are arranged in a sin­gle layer.
  4. Bake in the pre­heat­ed oven for about 20 min­utes. The squash cubes should be ten­der when done and some of them will be brown and caramelized on the bottom.
  5. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool on a cool­ing rack while you prep the rest of the salad.

For the Salad:

  1. Remove the leafy greens of the kale from their stems and tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Place the kale in a bowl.
  2. Core a Hon­ey Crisp or Gala apple. No need to peel it. The peels add beau­ti­ful col­or and vit­a­mins. Cut the apple into thin slices about ⅛” thick. Add the slices to the sal­ad bowl.
  3. Cut a thin slice of red onion. Like the apple, try to cut it not more than ⅛” thick. Sep­a­rate the slice into indi­vid­ual rings. If the rings are too large, sim­ply break them into man­age­able strips and then, add them to the bowl.
  4. Pour in the pecans and add the cooled but­ter­nut squash cubes. 
  5. Toss all the ingre­di­ents togeth­er to even­ly dis­trib­ute them through­out the dish. 

For the Lemon Pop­py Seed Vinaigrette:

  1. Whisk all the Vinai­grette ingre­di­ents togeth­er until thor­ough­ly blended. 
  2. Add ½ cup of the Lemon Pop­py Seed Vinai­grette to the sal­ad bowl and toss the Win­ter Kale Sal­ad to coat all the ingre­di­ents. The cit­rus will keep the apples from turn­ing brown and soft­en the kale just enough to be the per­fect tex­ture. (Alter­na­tive­ly, you can use a vinai­grette or dress­ing that you prefer.)
  3. Trans­fer to a nice serv­ing dish and serve with the left­over dress­ing on the side.

 

Notes

This sal­ad keeps in the fridge for about 48 hours.  It’s great in lunch­es and as a side for your favorite main dishes.

  • Prep Time: 15 min­utes
  • Cook Time: 20 min­utes
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Sal­ads, Side Dish­es, Vegetables
  • Method: roast­ing
  • Cui­sine: Amer­i­can

More Fabulous Salad Recipes

Perfect Potato Salad
Broccoli Ramen Coleslaw
Best Bean Salad
Cranberry Apple Salad

22 thoughts on “Kale Salad with Apples and Roasted Butternut Squash”

  1. Not only did this sal­ad taste amaz­ing, it was gor­geous!! And the kale did­n’t wilt with the dress­ing, so I was able to enjoy the left­overs the next day! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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