This kale and butternut squash salad screams all things fall with the apples, crunchy pumpkin seeds, creamy goat cheese, and the most delicious maple vinaigrette. Nutrient packed and a flavorful salad that everyone will love.
Just wait until you taste this amazing kale and butternut squash salad with goat cheese - it is packed full of flavor and there is so much goodness in this bowl! I adapted it from my Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad and made this one a little more "fall friendly" with roasted butternut squash and crispy pumpkin seeds.
Reasons To Love This Salad
- FESTIVE – The apples and roasted butternut squash scream all things fall/winter holidays!
- NUTRIENT PACKED – You're getting a healthy dose of fiber and antioxidants from the kale, healthy fats from goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, and the butternut squash provides a ton of benefits like antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.
- SO MUCH FLAVOR - The caramelized butternut squash, the sweet crunch of the apples along with the creamy goat cheese – so much flavor and texture all wrapped up in this beautiful salad.
- DIETARY NEEDS - gluten free and vegetarian.
Just for fun: Did you know that butternut squash is actually a fruit!? You're welcome!
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below. Here are some specific call-outs, and when needed some tips on keeping the ingredients clean.
APPLE - You definitely want to use a sweet apple. Any variety will work – I typically use honey crisp or pink lady. Pomegranate seeds or pears could be used instead of apples.
Clean food tip: since apples shows up on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen List time and time again, I recommend buying organic apples.
PUMPKIN SEEDS – If you don’t have pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), and are looking for an alternative, you can use walnuts or sliced almonds.
GOAT CHEESE - If goat cheese isn't your thing you can omit of sub with feta, parmesan, or even cubes of cheddar cheese.
KALE - This recipe calls for curly kale, but you could use lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale) in its place. Baby kale could even work too, but if using baby kale, no need to massage it first (it’s already soft).
Clean food tip: since kale shows up on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen List time and time again, I recommend buying organic kale.
How To Cut Butternut Squash
Follow these easy steps for cutting your butternut squash. But, if you’d prefer, you can always buy the pre-cut butternut squash at the grocery store.
- Start by cutting each end from the butternut squash.
- Using a vegetable peeler, or a sharp knife, carefully peel or trim off the skin from the butternut squash.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and then in half the short way so you have 4 pieces. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
- Place butternut squash pieces cut side down on cutting board and cut into ½ inch slices and then cut the slices into about ½ inch cubes.
STEP 1: Roast the butternut squash cubes.
Toss cubed butternut squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast at 425 for 30 minutes, stirring half way through. Let cool slightly before adding to the kale salad.
STEP 2: While butternut squash is in the oven, roast your pumpkin seeds, make the dressing, and prep the kale.
- Heat a pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and lightly drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir frequently for 3-4 minutes, or until about half are golden brown (you will hear some of them starting to "pop"). Lightly sprinkle with fine sea salt, remove from heat, and set aside.
Roasting the pumpkin seeds enhances the flavor and adds a nice crunch to the salad. I don't recommend skipping this, but you can use raw pumpkin seeds if desired.
- Place all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until combined. You can also whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
- Remove kale leaves from thick inner stem and tear into bit size pieces. Place kale in mixing bowl and drizzle with 2 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil. Gently "massage kale" with your hands until all kale leaves have been coated with oil.
Why massage the kale? Yes, it sounds silly, but massaging the kale helps to soften the leaves, makes it easier to chew and digest, and cuts down on the bitterness of the kale. You don't want to skip this step.
STEP 4: Assemble the kale and roasted butternut squash salad.
Place massaged kale into a large shallow salad bowl or on large serving tray. Add roasted butternut squash, chopped apples, diced red onion, roasted pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese crumbles. Lightly toss all salad ingredients together. Drizzle maple vinaigrette dressing over salad.
Serve right away and enjoy this roasted butternut squash kale salad with goat cheese!
While this butternut squash kale salad is best served fresh, you can prepare in advance and put together before eating.
Roast squash in advance and you can store the squash, chopped apple, diced onion, and pumpkin seeds in an airtight container. Massage kale in advance and store in a separate container. Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar and keep in fridge. Assemble all salad ingredients and drizzle with dressing right before serving.
You can also prepare the salad fully and cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Notes & Tips
TEAR THE KALE INTO BITE-SIZED PIECES: When removing the kale leaves from the thick inner stems, tear the kale into bit sized pieces. This just makes it easier to dive right into this salad!
STORING: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. The salad will be a little bit more "soggy", but will still be good! I have eaten it 2 days later and it was still delish!
More Fall Recipes For You To Try!
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Kale & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Goat Cheese (and maple vinaigrette)
For the Salad
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash (about 2-2.5lbs butternut squash)
- 2 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp. pepper
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
- 8 cups lightly packed torn kale leaves (from curly kale)
- 1 large sweet apple, chopped (or 2 small apples)
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 4 oz goat cheese crumbles
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. pure maplel syrup
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt (+ more to taste)
- ¾ tsp. ground mustard (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss cubed butternut squash with ½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Evenly spread out squash on your prepared baking sheet.
- Bake squash for 25-30 minutes, stirring half way through, or until squash can easily be pierced with a fork and is golden brown.
- While the squash is cooking, roast the pumpkin seeds, make the dressing, and prepare the kale. - Heat a cast iron skillet, or frying pan, over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir frequently for 3-4 minutes, or until about half of the pumpkin seeds are lightly browned and toasted. Sprinkle with fine sea salt and set aside. - Place the torn kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil. Using both your hands to massage the oil into the kale until all kale leaves are coated. Set aside. - Prepare the dressing by adding all dressing ingredients to a small mason jar, cover, and shake until mixed. You can also whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Once the squash is cooked let it cool slightly and then assemble the salad. Add kale to a large shallow salad bowl or serving tray. Add butternut squash, apples, onions, and pumpkin seeds. Toss lightly and then sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles and drizzle dressing over salad.
- Serve and enjoy!
- It's best if your butternut squash is cut into ½"-¾" cubes.
- When removing the kale leaves from the thick inner stems, tear the kale into bit sized pieces. I also recommend chopping the apple and onions on the smaller side.
- If using baby kale, you do NOT need to massage the kale first.
- The ground mustard is optional for the dressing. It tastes great without, but does add a little something to the end product if you have some around.
- When preparing this salad, a large shallow bowl or large plate works best. It keeps the toppings evenly distributed and keeps them from weighing down the kale.