The Best Squash & Kale Autumn Salad (Gluten Free, vegan)

Prep: 5 minutesCook: 55 minutesTotal: 60 minutes
Yield: serves 2Category: Soups/Sides
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This tasty Squash & Kale Autumn Salad is packed full of flavour despite containing just one handful of key ingredients.

The butternut squash roasted in sea salt and thyme works so well with the citrusy kale in this recipe. The addition of the sweet cranberries compliments these flavours perfectly and the toasted pecans add an extra depth of flavour making this a truly delicious yet simple dish.

This is a warm salad meaning it is perfect when the temperature starts to drop and refreshing summer salads packed full of cold and crunchy ingredients are starting to lose their appeal. This is my favourite salad to eat when one half of me wants to get wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire but the other half wants to ensure I am still eating nutrient dense food.

This Autumn salad is made using entirely seasonal ingredients, however, because those ingredients are so widely available all year round it means there are no limits surrounding when you can make this salad. This is incredibly fortunate as, once you try this simple salad recipe you will want to make it very regularly, trust me! If you like the sound of the roasted butternut squash but are not too crazy about the other ingredients used in this recipe why not head over to my Thyme Roasted Butternut Squash recipe which skips straight to it.

I like to add the butternut squash chunks and toasted pecans when both are still hot, however, you could wait until they have cooled before adding them if you desired. As you can eat this cold, it is a great recipe to prepare a batch of and eat for lunch as the week goes on if you do not have access to a microwave at work. Although I did intend this salad to be a lunch recipe, by making a larger portion and adding a chicken substitute this would make a delicious and nutritious evening meal.

The length of time needed to make this recipe may seem excessive given that it is a salad, however, the majority of this time is to roast the butternut squash so you can just pop a timer on and leave it in the oven. If you had limited time you could make a big batch of the roasted squash in advance and store it in your fridge. Having a batch of the butternut squash readily available would whittle the time needed to make this salad down to under ten minutes.

When you are reading the method you will notice I ask you to massage the kale. You might think it is okay to just skip this step but let me tell you I have eaten unmassaged kale and I have eaten massaged kale and there IS a big difference! You will not regret just taking a few minutes to rub the curly kale between your fingers in order to break down the tough, fibrous parts and create a more tender salad.

If you are looking to reduce food waste you may want to keep the seeds to try my Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds recipe which you can find here. I think the seeds would actually work really with the flavours in this salad and would be a great addition sprinkled on top of it. You can use up any leftover curly kale by making my ‘Cheesy’ Kale Crisps which you can find here.

If you like my Squash Autumn Salad and are looking for other warm salad recipes you may like my Warm New Potato & Harissa Chickpea Salad recipe which you can find here. For more recipes using Butternut Squash as the star of the show why not try my Butternut Squash & Bacon Risotto, my Curried Butternut Squash Soup or my Smokey Squash & Lentil Bake which you can find here.

If you like this recipe and want to show some support please leave a comment below or visit my Ko-Fi account to donate! x


  • 1 medium sized butternut squash
  • 2 to 3 handfuls curly kale
  • 1 handful pecans
  • 1/2 handful dried cranberries
  • 1/2 handful fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • pinch black pepper


  1. Chop the butternut squash into bite sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Set the seeds to the side to use in a separate recipe
  2. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic salt and a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper to the bowl. Remove the fresh thyme from the stems and add to the bowl, mix well to ensure each piece of butternut squash is well coated
  3. Arrange the butternut squash on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius
  4. After this time is up, move the butternut squash around the tray to ensure nothing burns and return to the oven for another 25 minutes
  5. While the squash roasts, add the curly kale to a salad bowl along with the remaining olive oil and the juice of the lemon. Massage the liquid into the leaves for three to five minutes in order to tenderise the leaves
  6. Add a pinch of sea salt to the leaves and massage for one more minute
  7. Add the pecans to a frying pan and lightly toast them over a low heat before adding to the salad bowl along with the cranberries
  8. Once roasted, add the butternut squash to the salad bowl and mix everything well before serving


  1. Tracey

    Hi, would Spinach be a good substitute for the kale as I can’t eat kale?

    • Natasha Gelder

      Hi Tracey, I think spinach or rocket would both work well in this if you can’t have kale!


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