This butternut squash salad with goat cheese screams all things fall with the apples, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and the most delicious maple vinaigrette. Nutrient packed and a flavorful salad that everyone will love.
Caramelized butternut squash, sweet crunchy apples, along with creamy goat cheese – so much flavor and texture all wrapped up in this beautiful roasted butternut squash salad. I adapted it from my Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad, but made this one a little more "fall friendly" with seasonal squash and crispy pumpkin seeds.
And this salad is healthy and nutrient packed! It is filled with 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.
Not only is this salad probably my favorite fall salad, it's also festive and perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner and even Christmas dinner. It screams all things fall/winter holidays.
And to complete your holiday menu planning, be sure to check out my Gluten-free Apple Crisp, Air Fryer Apples, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese and Honey, Wild Rice Salad, and Wild Rice Pilaf. I'm drooling just thinking about these!
Ingredients for Butternut Squash Salad
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below. Here are some specific notes.
APPLE - I like using a sweet apple. and any variety will work. I typically use honey crisp or pink lady.
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 – Also known as pepitas. Pepitas are the seeds that have been removed from the shell. You'll see them called pumpkin seeds or pepitas.
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 & Roast 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.
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. Squash is done when lightly browned and can easily be pierced with a fork.
Set aside and let cool slightly before slightly before adding to the kale salad.
Preparing the Salad
While butternut squash is in the oven, roast your pumpkin seeds, make the dressing, and prepare the remaining ingredients.
Roast pumpkin seeds: 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.
💭Tip: 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.
Prepare the dressing: Place all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until combined. You can also whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
Massage the kale: 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.
Prep remaining ingredients: Chop the apple and red onion.
Assemble the 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. Drizzle maple vinaigrette dressing over salad and lightly toss all salad ingredients together.
Voila... a healthy and flavor packed roasted butternut squash salad with goat cheese. Enjoy!
Serve right away and enjoy this roasted butternut squash kale salad with goat cheese!
Substitutions & Variations
If kale just isn't your thing, you can swap out the kale for spinach or any mixed greens.
The goat cheese can be swapped for feta or even cubed sharp cheddar or Manchego cheese would be good too!
Lightly toasted pecans or raw pistachios would be a great addition, or a replacement for the pumpkin seeds.
Try a tart green apple instead of a sweet apple.
Pomegranate seeds would be a lovely and festive addition. You can also omit the apple and use these in place of the apple.
Preparing in Advance
While this butternut squash kale salad is best served fresh, you can prepare in advance and assemble right before eating. Just note the roasted butternut squash will lose it's crisp roasted texture after it's been stored. And I do not recommend preparing the ingredients more than 24 hours in advance.
To make ahead of time, prepare all ingredients as the recipe is written, although I do recommend chopping the apple right before serving to avoid browning. Store the roasted squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, and chopped onion in a covered container in the fridge.
Massage kale in advance and store in a separate container, covered in the fridge. Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar and keep in fridge.
Before serving, chop the apple, assemble the salad, and drizzle with dressing.
You can also prepare the salad fully and cover and refrigerate for up to a few hours in advance.
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!
Just for fun: Did you know that butternut squash is actually a fruit!? You're welcome!
More Fall Recipes For You To Try
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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Goat Cheese
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
- 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 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.