Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale Salad

Fresh, sweet and the perfect amount of crunch! This salad is full of cozy fall flavors and is the perfect side dish for any meal or family gathering!

Roasted butternut squash and kale salad is the perfect side dish for any fall meal! It's loaded with fresh autumn ingredients and is always a crowd favorite!

It’s no secret that I love a good kale salad, but I have to admit – this one really takes the cake loves. (Which is definitely saying something considering how many kale salads I have on the blog now. 😉 ) But I just love all the freshness that this one brings and that it uses so many of my favorite autumn ingredients too! Not to mention, it’s tossed with my new favorite maple apple cider vinaigrette! All I’m saying is that one bite of this cinnamon roasted butternut squash and kale salad will have you wondering why you’ve never tried squash in salad before! (And will make you want to serve it at every gathering over the holidays too. 😉 )

Cinnamon roasted butternut squash, crisp apples, juicy pomegranate arils, creamy goat cheese and tender kale are all tossed in a sweet apple cider vinaigrette and topped with toasted pecans! It's the perfect autumn side salad!

Ingredients & Substitutions

If you love fall flavors then you’re going to love this salad! It’s loaded with all the fresh autumn produce and is such a refreshing side dish to serve with any meal!

  • Cinnamon roasted butternut squash: Adds so much flavor to your salad and makes it a littler heartier too!
  • Kale: Provides a sturdy base for your salad and stands up so well to the rest of the ingredients. (Can be replaced with mixed greens instead)
  • Honeycrisp apples: Adds sweetness and texture to your salad. (I love using honeycrisp apples because they’re just sweet enough to compliment the butternut squash.)
  • Pomegranate arils: Also adds some sweetness. (Plus they just scream fall too! 😉 )
  • Goat cheese: Adds creaminess. (Can be replaced with feta cheese instead. Feta will give the salad a slightly saltier taste.)
  • Toasted pecans: Adds so much crunch and toasting the nuts really helps to elevate your salad!
  • Maple apple cider dressing: Ties everything together! And it’s only 3 ingredients too!
This easy kale salad needs to be on your menu for the holiday season! It's full of fresh seasonal ingredients and even has a homemade maple apple cider dressing too!

How to make cinnamon roasted butternut squash

If you all have never tried cinnamon roasted butternut squash, then you’re seriously missing out! Not only is it such a great side dish on it’s own, but it also compliments the other ingredients in this salad so well! Plus it can easily be made ahead of time and is great for leftovers too!

  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Avocado oil spray (can be replace with regular avocado oil or olive oil too)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place your squash in bowl and spray them with your avocado oil spray (or drizzle them with regular oil). Season the squash with your cinnamon and salt to taste.
  3. Spread the squash out in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until their tender enough for a knife to go through them.
  4. Set them aside to cool while you prepare the rest of your salad ingredients.

*If making the squash beforehand, store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Need a healthier side dish to serve this fall and winter? Try this incredibly flavorful butternut squash and kale salad!

How to massage kale

I’m a HUGE lover of kale and think it’s such a great base for most salads during this time of year. That being said, it HAS to be massaged in order for it to be edible. (Plus it helps to bring out the flavor and turns it to a pretty bright green color too!)

  1. Cut the kale leaves off the stem or “rib”. Then cut the leaves into bite sized pieces.
  2. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of your dressing over the kale. (Or you can use 1 Tbsp of olive oil instead but I like to “infuse” the kale with my salad dressing flavor.)
  3. Rub the kale together with your hands to fully incorporate the dressing/olive oil throughout. Do this for 5 minutes. (The kale should begin to soften and turn a bright vibrant green color. You’ll also notice that the amount of kale you have will “shrink” as well.)
  4. At this point, the kale can be stored in the fridge until your ready to make your salad.

How do I toast pecans?

I’m a firm believer that every salad needs a little crunch and toasted nuts are some of my favorite toppings to add! Plus they’re so easy to make too!

  • Simply measure out 1 cup of pecans and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes or until they just start to turn a dark brown. (You can do this with any other type of nut too; walnuts, almonds, etc.)

*Toasting the nuts helps to bring out their flavor and makes them crispier too!

I hope you all enjoy this cinnamon roasted butternut squash and kale salad! Have the absolute BEST day loves!

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Roasted butternut squash and kale salad is the perfect side dish for any fall meal! It's loaded with fresh autumn ingredients and is always a crowd favorite!
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5 from 1 vote

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale Salad

Cinnamon roasted butternut squash is tossed in a sweet apple cider dressing with tender kale, crisp apples, pomegranate seeds and creamy goat cheese and topped with toasted pecans! It's the perfect side dish for fall!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Easy, Gluten free, Holiday
Keyword: apples, butternut squash, cinnamon, easy, gluten free, goat cheese, kale, pomegrantes, roasted, salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • ¼-½ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale, leaves removed from the stems and chopped
  • 1 honeycrisp apple, chopped (or your favorite sweet apple)
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 8oz. package plain goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ cup toasted pecans (see notes for toasting directions)

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I use extra light tasting olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima)

Instructions

To make the dressing:

  • Whisk all of your ingredients together in a bowl. Set it aside while you prepare the rest of your salad.

To make the cinnamon roasted butternut squash:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place your squash cubes in a bowl and spray them with non-stick cooking spray. (I usually used avocado oil spray.) Season the squash with your cinnamon and salt to taste. Spread the squash out onto your baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the squash is just tender enough to pierce with a knife. Once done, take it out to cool completely before adding it to your salad.

To make the salad:

  • Place the kale in a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp of your dressing. Massage the kale with your hands for at least 5 minutes until it starts to soften and turns a bright green color. (If the kale is still "too dry" drizzle it with a little more olive oil to help with massaging.)
  • Add your cooled butternut squash, chopped apples, pomegranate arils and goat cheese and toss with the rest of your dressing. Top with toasted pecans right before serving!

Notes

To toast the pecans:
  • Measure out 1 cup of pecans and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes or until they just start to turn a dark brown.

One Comment

  1. I made this for a light fall dinner last year and it was pure perfection. Such great cozy flavors and fun textures. I wish I could just make this for Thanksgiving and nothing else… it’s all I need!

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