Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad

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Featuring crispy and chewy roasted butternut squash and cabbage, kale and carrot ribbons, chickpeas, a tangy vinaigrette, and a sweet-and-spicy almond crunch, this is the fall salad of your dreams! Hearty yet refreshing, it’s perfect for fall entertaining.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
5 from 14 votes

Thank you to ALDI for sponsoring this post! And thank you to my readers for supporting the brands who help make my work possible.

One of my favorite fall foods is butternut squash (if you’re familiar with my fall recipes like Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese or Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash, this should come as no surprise!). And this Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad is such a fun and delightful way to enjoy fall flavors.

Rest assured, this is no ordinary salad. The base is a mixture of crispy and chewy roasted butternut squash and cabbage wedges, which get mixed with chopped kale, carrot ribbons, and chickpeas. Everything gets tossed in a tangy red wine vinaigrette and finally topped with an addictive sweet-and-spicy almond crunch.

In case this salad doesn’t sound as good as I think it does, then you should trust my partner Max’s feedback. I can rarely get him to eat salads (especially anything with kale, which he refers to as roughage), but after one bite, he grabbed a huge bowl and said “I assume this is for me.” BOLD move, Max. Bold move.

butternut squash and cabbage salad with kale on platter

Why you’ll love this recipe

Seriously fun vegetables. Butternut squash is always tasty, but opting for super thin slices instead of the standard cube/dice makes it even better. It gets crispy and even chewy in a way that squash typically doesn’t. And instead of just slicing the carrots into coins or matchsticks, I peel them with a wide vegetable peeler for elegant ribbons that make salad so much more fun.

Gourmet but easy and affordable. All the unique flavors and textures make this salad fit for fall entertaining (think Thanksgiving first course!). That said, this salad is quite simple and made with everyday, affordable ingredients.

Save time by picking up the pre-chopped Simply Nature organic kale from ALDI and by making the almond crunch a day or two ahead of time. And you can find all the pantry staples needed for this recipe at a crazy good price at ALDI. 

vegan pantry staples with agave nectar, olive oil, chickpeas, almonds

Light but satisfying. In a season where heavy comfort food is everywhere, it’s nice to switch things up with a light and bright meal that won’t weigh you down. That said, the addition of roasted veggies, chickpeas, and a nutty topping make this more satisfying than your average salad and perfect for a light but complete meal.

Texture and flavor heaven. Chewy and crispy butternut squash, tender roasted cabbage, crisp kale and carrots, a crunchy almond topping – so many great textures here! Roasting the cabbage and squash bring out their natural sweetness, which is complemented by the sweet-and-spicy almond crunch and balanced by the tangy, subtly sweet-and-spicy vinaigrette.

butternut squash and cabbage salad with kale on platter

How to make this salad

Gather your produce.

carrots and cabbage on cutting board with butternut squash and kale

Peel the butternut squash, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Slice, crosswise, into ¼” thick half-moon slices. Use a mandoline for even slices (it’s also quicker).

Cut the cabbage in half, then into 1” thick wedges. Using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into wide ribbons.

Toss the squash slices with olive oil, maple syrup, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the cabbage with olive oil, salt, and pepper and transfer to a second baking sheet.

Roast the cabbage and squash for 15 minutes. Flip cabbage wedges and toss the squash. Continue roasting for 10-13 minutes, until cabbage edges are dark brown and squash is browned on edges and tender.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, and oregano in a bowl. Stream in the olive oil, whisking as you go, and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the almond crunch. In a frying pan over medium, add the almonds, agave, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir constantly until browned and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to parchment paper and squish together. Once set, break into clumps.

sweet and spicy almond crunch

Assemble the salad. Add the chopped kale and carrot ribbons to a large bowl. 

Add the chickpeas and some of the vinaigrette. Toss the ingredients to combine.

Add the roasted squash and cabbage, along with the almond crunch. Add the remaining vinaigrette and toss again.

Tips for making this salad

Butternut squash. Thinly slicing butternut squash into half-moons is my favorite way to prep squash. It’s much easier to do this with a mandoline, which will get you even slices (which will roast evenly). Of course, you can still cut them without a mandoline, but a sharp chef’s knife is a must.

If you struggle to cut the squash in half, pop the whole uncut squash in the microwave for 2 minutes. This softens it, making it much easier to slice through.  

Carrots. You’ll need a Y-shaped/wide vegetable peeler to shave the carrots into ribbons. This is easier when the carrots are on the larger/wider size. When you get to the point where you can no longer shave long peels, just slice the remaining carrots thinly – it adds a nice crunchy texture.

Cabbage. First cut the cabbage in half (you need to leave the core intact so the leaves stay together, but trim the tough white stem at the bottom). Then cut through the core to get wedges.

Almond crunch. You can make this a few days ahead of time and store in a sealed jar in your pantry.

Roasting vegetables. I prefer roasting the cabbage and squash on well-worn baking sheets instead of lining the sheets with parchment paper. I find the veggies brown better (and more quickly) this way. 

Want to make this salad heartier? Add in another can of chickpeas!

Leftovers. If you plan to keep leftovers, the salad is still good 2-3 days later, but the texture will be best if you dress only the amount of salad you plan to eat that day. Store the leftover, undressed salad in a container in the fridge, store the vinaigrette in a sealed jar on the counter for a few days or in the fridge, and store almond crunch in a sealed jar on the counter.

butternut squash and cabbage salad with kale on platter

Substitutions

If you don’t have a Y-shaped peeler, slice the carrots into thin coins or with a mandoline.

Nut-free? Substitute the almonds with sunflower seeds. I have tried making the almond crunch with sunflower seeds instead and it works great. If your nuts are salted, skip the salt or go really light on it.

I personally love the tang from the red wine vinegar in this vinaigrette, but I’m sure it would also work with apple cider or sherry vinegar.

The agave nectar is what really helps the almonds caramelize and stick to one another. It might work with maple syrup but the nuts may not stick together as much (I haven’t tried it).

butternut squash and cabbage salad with kale on platter

I hope you’ll enjoy this delightful roasted butternut squash kale salad. Grab all the seasonal produce and plant-based staples you need on your next grocery run at ALDI!

Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad

5 from 14 votes
Featuring crispy and chewy roasted butternut squash and cabbage, kale and carrot ribbons, chickpeas, a tangy vinaigrette, and a sweet-and-spicy almond crunch, this is the fall salad of your dreams! Hearty yet refreshing, it’s perfect for fall entertaining.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: New American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, soy-free
Serving size: 4 (main) or 8 (side)

Ingredients

  • 1 small green cabbage or ½ of a large cabbage
  • 1 small butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salad Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups (50-65g) Simply Nature Organic Chopped Kale
  • 2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and ribboned with a Y-shaped/wide vegetable peeler*
  • 1 (15-ounce/425g ) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with a press or finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sweet-and-Spicy Almond Crunch

  • ½ cup (70g) whole almonds, unsalted**
  • 2 tablespoons (42g) Simply Nature Organic Light Agave Nectar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt or sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450ºF/232ºC.
  • Prep the cabbage: Trim the bottom stem from the cabbage, but leave the core otherwise intact to hold the leaves together. Slice the cabbage in half. Cut into 1-inch thick wedges.
    Spread the cabbage out on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Rub cabbage with your hands, getting the oil and seasonings into the crevices.
  • Prep the squash: Peel the butternut squash***. Cut in half vertically and scoop out the seeds. Using a mandoline (preferred method) or a sharp chef’s knife, thinly slice the squash, crosswise, into ¼-inch thick half-moon slices (see photos in blog post for reference).
    Transfer squash slices to a bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, maple syrup, cumin, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet with as little overlap as possible (you might need to add a few pieces to the pan with the cabbage).
  • Roast the cabbage and squash for 15 minutes. Flip each cabbage piece using a spatula and toss the squash around. Continue roasting for 10 to 13 minutes, or until the cabbage edges are browned and the squash is nicely browned and tender.
  • Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Add garlic, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, red pepper flakes, and oregano to a bowl. Whisk to combine, then stream in the olive oil, whisking as you go. Season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Or, add all of the ingredients to a jar, close the lid, and shake up the jar until the dressing is emulsified.
  • Make the almond crunch: Line a large plate with parchment paper. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, add the almonds, agave nectar, and cayenne. Season with a bit of salt and black pepper. Stir the mixture constantly, until the nuts are browned and the sugar has caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Quickly transfer the mixture to the lined surface and use a spatula to squish the almonds together in a pile. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then use your hands to break them into clumps.
  • Assemble the salad: Add the kale, carrot ribbons, and chickpeas to a large bowl. Pour some of the vinaigrette on top and toss with tongs or forks. Add the roasted squash and cabbage, add a bit more vinaigrette, and gently toss. Sprinkle the almond crunch on top.****
    Best served at room temperature or warm.

Notes

* When you get to the point where you can no longer shave long peels, just slice the remaining carrots thinly – it adds a nice crunchy texture. 
** If your nuts are salted, skip the salt or go really light on it.
**** Squash too tough to cut in half? Microwave it for 2 minutes. This softens it, making it much easier to slice through.  
**** If you plan to keep leftovers, the salad is still good 2-3 days later, but the texture will be best if you dress only the amount of salad you plan to eat that day.

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17 comments on Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad

  1. Claro

    5 stars
    This looks delicious! My only question is, I don’t get pre-chopped kale where I live. Is it pre-cooked? What should I do to the raw kale I get at the store to make this salad?
    Thanks a lot :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Claro, you just need to cut and wash the kale and you will be fine. We only suggest pre-chopped kale to help you cut down on cook time :)

  2. Tanya

    5 stars
    I made this salad for Thanksgiving and it was AMAZING! Even my non-vegan friends loved it and requested the recipe! I reduced the amount of maple syrup and added the juice of half of a lemon. In addition, I roasted my chickpeas with some coming, salt, black pepper and just a touch of oil (this is how I normally like my chickpeas if I add them to a salad. Even the leftovers next day were delicious! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!!! Definitely will be making it again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Tanya!

  3. Y

    5 stars
    thank you for this recipe it was such a huge hit with my family!! even self proclaimed salad haters were enjoying it 🥰 the one thing I’ll say is that it does take a lot of oven time which can be precious on thanksgiving, so I prepped the roasted veggies in advance. I also had to be careful to remove the cabbage ribs/core parts that didnt get soft enough even after a decent amount of time in the oven, to make sure they didn’t get caught on anyones teeth! but other than that, everything worked together so well and this is such a great dressing too! I skipped the chickpeas to make it more of an appetiser-y salad but it was still so hearty and delicious and I think this would make a great main dish with the chickpeas added, or even some roasted tofu or something. Def recommend this recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So great to hear you loved the recipe! Thanks for trying it out and serving it to your family :)

  4. Annette Heller

    5 stars
    This was a great autumn salad! I grew butternut squash in my garden and was thrilled to try this salad. I am not a chickpea fan so I just omitted them and it was still a very filling salad!

    PS. I just made the caramelized onion jam from your cookbook and WOW so good! I’m going to be making this for gifts this year!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So cool you were able to use homegrown butternut squash, Annette! Thank you for the lovely review :)

  5. Trish G

    5 stars
    Delish recipe, LOVE the roasted squash, dressing going into my kale salad rotation 🙂
    Didnt have cabbage so added more kale, and roasted the chickpeas w spices cause hubby doesnt like “plain”.
    Making it for family dinner next week!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Trish. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  6. Melissa

    5 stars
    Eating this delicious salad as I write my comments. Made a few slight modifications based on ingredients I had on hand and used less red pepper flakes and garlic (baby mouth 😉). Turned out great and so pretty, as well! I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

  7. Anne-Marie

    5 stars
    This is super tasty, easy to prepare. Definitely will make it again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Anne-Marie, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  8. Marie

    5 stars
    Just reading the list of ingredients and the method was enough to guess that it would be delish, and it did not disappoint. Loved the overall taste, variety of textures and the colors! SO à propos! I love your style, you are so real 👍 Thank you!

    Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Marie! And thank you for following!

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