This Autumn Harvest Kale Salad has slightly roasted kale and Brussels sprouts (for easier digestion), delicata squash, and tossed with tangy balsamic vinaigrette. This fall kale salad is naturally paleo and Whole30 boasting all your seasonal favorites.
This fall kale salad is a nourishing, hearty, and flavorful salad that would make a great addition for your holiday meal. Or pair this with a healthy protein like roast chicken for an easy weeknight meal.
This salad embodies all the amazing flavors of autumn produce. It's a delicious salad that also happens to be naturally paleo, Whole30, and low carb.
Roasted delicata squash, sliced green apples, red onions all on a bed of nourishing kale and shaved Brussel sprouts. The delightful toppings consisting of pomegranate seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a small handful of micro greens for a bonus nutritional punch are perfect to round off this healthy salad.
Why you'll love this kale salad
- Nutrient-dense - as is the heartbeat of this website, we love to increase the nutrient profile of our foods and this fall kale salad is no different. Read below why roasting your cruciferous veggies is actually healthier than eating them raw.
- Versatile - there can be so many variations of this salad based on what you have available to you seasonally so don't get stuck if you don't have some of these ingredients.
- Level of difficulty - Easy. Don't let looks deceive you - this salad is actually quite easy to prepare and put together.
- Picky eaters - modify this salad to accommodate the picky eaters in your life.
💭Make it Nutrient-Dense: Cooking cruciferous greens like kale, spinach, and chard reduces oxalic acids allowing proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.
Why is it important to cook kale?
Were you influenced by the raw kale trend? I think we all fell victim. Turns out all that kale sitting in your gut isn't good for you.
The truth is, some vegetables are more nutritious when slightly cooked. Cruciferous greens such as spinach, chard, and kale contain a chemical known as oxalic acid, which can be irritating to the intestinal tract. It can also block nutrient absorption.
The oxalic acid binds with minerals such as magnesium and calcium and may cause them to crystallize throughout the body. This process can damage tissues and creating inflammation in the body. (source)
The good news is that cooking these greens is a simple way to reduce the oxalic acid content.
And this salad allows you to enjoy kale in its most nutritious state.
This delicious kale salad boasts all your favorite fall foods. It's a culmination of seasonal harvest with that perfect tang, crunch, and pop of flavor.
- kale: I used curly kale but lacinto kale works beautifully too
- Brussel sprouts: shredded or shaved so save some time and get bagged Brussels
- delicata squash: this lovely gourd doesn't require peeling. It's much easier to handle and is perfect in this salad.
- red onion: the crunch of red onions pairs well with the smoothness of the greens
- granny smith apple: adds great flavor, texture, and crunch to the salad
- avocado: makes this salad heartier and incorporates more healthy fats
- pomegranate anvils and roasted pumpkin seeds: always nice to garnish with these fall must-haves.
- staples like avocado oil, Italian seasoning, and sea salt
- The balsamic vinaigrette comes together with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, dijon mustard, and black pepper.
See recipe card for exact quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
There are so many different ways to prepare this salad based on what is currently in your kitchen as well as what you have access to. But consider these subs and variations:
- Greens: any kale will work - lacinto, curly, or dinosaur kale
- Squash: instead of delicata, use acorn or butternut squash. In a pinch, you can also use sweet potatoes instead.
- Apples: it is apple season so don't limit yourself to just the granny smiths. Use golden or honeycrisp apples for variety.
- Add cheese: add some tangy goat cheese, white cheddar, blue cheese, or salty feta cheese for more flavor (and protein).
- Add meat: speaking of protein, add a roasted chicken breast to round off the meal or crispy prosciutto for a fancier flare.
- Dressing: the homemade dressing calls for balsamic vinegar but apple cider vinegar or simple lemon juice will work in a pinch.
- Fun toppings: add dried cranberries, honey-glazed pecans, or roasted almonds for different topping.
- 🕐Time Saving Tip: packaged shaved Brussels sprouts and chopped kale from Trader Joe's or Sprouts to save time
- 🗓Make-Ahead Tip: cook kale, Brussels sprouts, and squash up to 2 days and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad; prepare all ingredients but store them separately up to 1 day to make assembling the salad easy
- 🚫Food Safety: serve dressing on the side; leftover salad without dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days
How to cook kale for nutrition
The best way to cook kale is gently roasting in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. This way, it still retains the vibrant green color but won't have bitterness that raw kale salads often have.
What I love about this salad is that you can have kale, Brussel sprouts, and squash on the same pan which makes it super easy to pull this salad together.
If you're skeptical about eating cooked greens in a salad, I assure you this salad will win you over. That's because the vegetables aren't cooked to mush.
This harvest kale salad doesn't qualify as a warm kale salad because the greens and squash aren't served warm.
We are slightly roasting them in the oven for 15 minutes only (on the same pan as our squash!). The kale and Brussel sprouts still retain their shape, color, and texture but without the compromising effect of oxalic acid.
💭Good to know: Save a pan! Delicata squash cooks much quicker than other squashes. It's a great candidate to be roasted with kale and Brussels sprouts on the same pan.
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience.
This autumn kale salad recipe calls for these seasonal ingredients: delicata squash, avocado oil, Italian seasoning, chopped kale, Brussels sprouts, red onion, granny smith apple, avocado, pomegranate anvils, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
For the balsamic vinaigrette, you will need extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, sea salt, and black pepper.
Step 1. Roast Squash and Greens
Cut ends of delicata squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith and cut to make half-moons with ¼" thickness.
Season delicata squash with Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Drizzle avocado oil and toss well with hands. Spread in single layer on one half of a large, deep baking pan.
On the other side of the pan, toss chopped kale and shredded Brussel sprouts. It's okay if it's one big pile of greens. Season with salt and pepper if desired but not necessary.
Roast for 15 minutes. After that time, transfer the greens into a large salad dish to cool.
Turn the oven to low broil. Spread out the squash slices out more on the pan and pop them back in the oven to broil for 3-4 minutes. Keep a close watch to avoid burning the squash.
Remove squash and allow to cool completely.
💭Helpful Tip: Use avocado spray instead of avocado oil to roast delicata squash. It's quicker with less mess and covers greater surface area than oil.
Step 2. Prepare rest of ingredients
While the greens and squash are roasting and cooling, prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Dice red onions into small cubes. Slice apple into small wedges or thin slices, depending on preference. Slice avocados into thin slices or dice into cubes, as desired.
Prepare pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Step 3. Make balsamic vinaigrette
In a small jar, add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Secure the lid and shake to combine well.
Step 4. Assembling the salad
In a large bowl, spread out roasted kale and Brussels sprouts. Add roasted delicata squash, followed by apples, onions, and avocados. Top with pomegranate anvils and pumpkin seeds. Add a bit of micro greens for a nutritional boost.
Drizzle over the salad or serve dressing on the side.
Helpful Tools & Links
Below are some affiliate links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store but it helps to have a link so you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, extra large stainless steel baking pan, serving bowl with lid
- Ingredients: real salt, olive oil, avocado oil spray, Italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar
- Storage Supplies: mason jars for leftover dressing, glass snap containers
Serve in a large salad bowl like this one that comes with bamboo lid and serving utensils. Brilliant!
This fall harvest salad is a beautiful addition to your holiday meal. It pairs well with Spatchcock Turkey or Air Fryer Duck for Thanksgiving feast. But it can also be enjoyed on a weeknight with a healthy protein like salmon or roasted chicken. It also pairs excellently with this Chicken Potato Bake.
This salad is quite filling and nutritious. The delicata squash adds a wonderful layer of flavor and texture and substance.
To store: Leftovers (without dressing) can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Toss avocados as they will brown. With dressing, salad should be consumed within that day.
Storage containers: these glass snap containers are perfect for leftovers
The short answer is yes but that doesn't mean you should eat kale raw. Kale is a cruciferous green, much like broccoli and cabbage, and should be cooked for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Massaged kale has reduced bitterness but still retains those anti-nutrients that makes it hard to digest. Cooking kale, however, is the perfect solution to eliminate bitterness while also maximizing nutrition in this popular green. Pair gently cooked kale with an acidic base and you have kale with zero bitterness ready to be enjoyed.
Looking for more fall recipes? Here are some ideas:
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Autumn Harvest Kale Salad
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut ends of delicata squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith and cut to into half-rings ¼" thick.
- Season delicata squash with Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Drizzle avocado oil and toss well with hands or use avocado oil spray. Spread in single layer on one half of a large baking sheet.
- On the other side of the pan, toss chopped kale and shaved Brussel sprouts. Season with salt and pepper if desired but not necessary.
- Roast for 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted greens into a large salad dish to cool.
- Turn the oven to low broil. Spread out the squash slices out more on the pan and place back in the oven to broil for 3-4 minutes. Keep a close watch to avoid burning the squash. Remove squash and cool.
- In a small jar, combine extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and shake vigorously to blend everything.
- To assemble the salad, spread cooled squash over the greens, followed by sliced green apples, sliced avocado, chopped onions, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate anvils.
- Pour balsamic vinaigrette over the salad and enjoy. Or serve dressing on the side.
- To roast squash, use avocado oil spray for ease as it covers greater surface area with less mess.
- The salad (without the dressing) can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Time-saving tip: roast greens and squash up to 2 days before assembling the salad; prepared salad dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days in teh refrigerator.
- This recipe makes a large salad: 12 side salads or 6 generous salads. Cut the ingredients in half if making for a smaller meal.
The information shown is an estimate provided for your convenience by an online calculator. It should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our complete Nutritional Information Disclaimer.
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This post was originally published October 2020 but has since been updated to include helpful information.