The perfect holiday salad recipe, this Lacinato Kale Salad with Butternut Squash is healthy, sweet, crunchy, and pairs nicely with almost any holiday main dish.
This Lacinato Kale Salad with Butternut Squash is for my friend, Ashley.
When she was in the hair studio the other day, she asked me if I had any holiday salad recipes on the site that she could make for Thanksgiving dinner.
Having just then started brainstorming holiday recipes– and, feeling like there was a dish I was forgetting — I had my answer. I had to get a great holiday salad recipe on the list.
Having just had a delicious salad from Ed’s Cantina in Estes Park, complete with dates, pomegranate arils, pepitas, and an agave vinaigrette, I knew the type of flavors I wanted to re-create.
I also knew I wanted to work in roasted butternut squash and that I wanted to build a kale salad, making the most of the fall vegetable and having a salad that wouldn’t wilt for thanksgiving leftovers.
So, I tossed the squash with salt and cumin and gave it a good, golden brown roast in the oven. I whipped together a simple, but flavorful citrus vinaigrette. And I got out my salad bowl, massaged my kale, crumbled the cheese, and sliced the dates.
What resulted was a salad we were glad to have around for the week to eat… and to have again with family during the holidays.
This Holiday Kale Salad Recipe is…
- Made with fresh, seasonal ingredients
- Gluten-free & vegetarian
- Perfect for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas
- Full of good-for-you goodies
- Perfectly finished off with an agave dressing
If you’re looking for a healthy kale salad that will be a hit at your next family celebration dinner, you’ve found your winner. With balanced flavors, satisfying cheese & nuts, and a naturally sweet finish, this salad will be popular with both the health-conscious and not-so-health-conscious in your crew.
Which kale is best for salads?
It depends somewhat on personal preference, but both lacinato or dinosaur kale and traditional kale are best for salads.
If you want a leafier green for your salad, traditional leafy kale is better. If you want a heartier, less harsh tasting kale, go for the dinosaur or lacinato kale. Either way, make sure to massage your kale thoroughly before putting your salad together.
What’s good with kale?
There are so many good foods that go well with kale. It’s a heartier vegetable, though, so you heartier nuts, fruits, vegetables, or cheeses tend to go well with it.
When I’m making a kale salad, I like to toss it with a cheese, nut or seed, dried fruit or fresh sweet fruit, and a vibrant & tangy dressing. In this case, I serve the kale with dates, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and roasted butternut squash before tossing it with a lightly sweet and bright agave dressing.
How do you tenderize kale?
You tenderize kale by massaging it with your hands. Just place all the kale in a large bowl and then massage it for 1-2 minutes, or until the kale turns a darker color green and gets tender.
Other holiday and special occasion dishes you may enjoy:
- Citrus Dijon Pork Tenderloin
- Carrot Souffle
- Potato Gratin Gruyere
- Pumpkin Spice Blender Muffins
- Easy Butternut Squash Soup
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A hearty seasonal salad that is perfect for holiday meals, Christmas, or Thanksgiving.
This recipe makes 8 side salad portions or 4-6 main salad portions, depending on your appetite. If you want to serve it as a main dish for a winter dinner, grill or broil some salmon to go on top.
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups (or 8-10 oz.) butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Citrus Agave Salad dressing
- 2 small limes, juiced (or about 2 T lime juice)
- 4 teaspoons agave syrup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- pinch salt
- 9 packed cups or 10 oz. lacinato kale, de-veined (optional) and cut into 1-1.25" pieces
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 4 large pitted medjool dates, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), dry-roasted and unsalted (preferably)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Roast the butternut squash:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a medium to large size baking sheet with the tablespoon of oil.
- Add the squash to the sheet and toss in the oil until the squash is coated. Add the cumin and salt and toss again until the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Move the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 18-19 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork and browning around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes on a wire rack.
While the butternut squash roasts:
- Add the kale to a large salad bowl and massage vigorously with your hands for 1-2 minutes, or until the kale gets tender and starts to turn a darker green color.
- Add the vinaigrette ingredients to a small mixing bowl or the bowl of a small food processor and whisk vigorously or blend for 1-2 minutes, or until the dressing is emulsified and the oil and juice and blended.
- Layer the cheese, pepitas, dates, and cranberries on the salad.
Toss the salad:
- Add the cooled butternut squash to the salad.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until the kale and toppings are evenly covered with dressing and the toppings are distributed throughout the salad. Serve and enjoy!
1. Pro-tip: after pitting your dates, "slice" them with kitchen shears. They don't stick as much as a knife does and it saves a lot of time, too.
2. Feel free to use 1/4 cup pomegranate arils in place of the cranberries if you have them.
3. Pro-tip: to easily devein kale, grab the stalk at the base with both hands. Holding the hand on the base side still, pull your other hand down the stalk with your fingers pinched around the stalk. The leaves should "slough" off the stalk easily.
4. This salad will keep dressed & covered in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Amount Per Serving Calories 192Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 7mgSodium 158mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 3gSugar 16gProtein 5g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.