Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette

Since moving back to Germany, my diet has been kind of on the fritz. For about 3 weeks I was left blender-less. A pretty big deal for me, considering I have a smoothie for breakfast and lunch everyday. So in situations like this, in order for me to get in any where near the same amount of vegetables as usual, I have to turn to salads. BAH. It may sound strange coming from a vegan, but I honestly am not a fan of salads.

How to make Kale salad taste GOOD!

Now some of you may already be in love with kale salads or just leafy salads in general, so this may not be a problem for you, but it definitely is for me. Before my diet change I was pretty much a ‘starchatarian‘. I didn’t eat much meat. Just lots and lots of starches- maybe one serving of vegetables a day. Usually not raw. That’s why smoothies have been such a God send for me. An easy and delicious way to pump my body full of raw fruit and vegetable goodness!

I pushed through my dislike of salads though, determined to get in my daily serving of dark green, leafy veggies. I made it my mission to conquer the kale salad and make it taste less…. well, raw. Not like you were straight up eating leaves. And after a few trial and errors in the kitchen, I swear to you that I have found a way to make kale salad taste GOOD!

How to make Kale salad taste GOOD!

The trick is to really massage the dressing into the leaves. The acidity in the dressing softens the leaves, making them more tender while also giving them a hit of flavor. I generally use my hands to do this. And I usually chop the kale pretty fine to something like a ‘shred‘. Once you have massaged the kale leaves for a good while, set the kale aside for as long as possible to allow it to ‘cook‘. Personally, I find the best texture to be the next day, but you could eat it as soon as 15 minutes after if you’d like.

How to make Kale salad taste GOOD!

As far as what to add to your kale salad to make it taste good, that is all up to your personal tastes. I chose to share a Roasted Butternut Squash Salad here. I like it served with some dried fruit and nuts. Sometimes I like to add a little quinoa for fun. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations. I also really like adding edamame.

You can always take your kale salad in a different direction though and use a more Italian like dressing with some tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, etc. With salads, anything goes as long as you’ll eat it!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups ½-inch butternut squash cubes
  • ½ cup ¼-inch sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 cups finely shredded kale
  • ¼ cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds, optional
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, optional
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, all-natural applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown or dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread squash and onion across pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, tossing halfway.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients in a large bowl until emulsified and smooth.
  3. Place kale in bowl with dressing; massage the dressing into the kale with your fingertips to coat well. Allow the kale to sit for at least 15 minutes (or longer) to soften.
  4. Add remaining salad ingredients, including roasted squash and onion. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.



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  • Dianne March 20, 2015, 9:07 pm

    Hi, I’ve been looking for healthy recipes for my son, 15 years old, to take to track meets. They last all day long so I want something healthy that gives him energy. Thanks:) Can’t wait to hear more!