Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Easy Cranberry Dressing

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   This post is a roundup of festive recipes to serve at your Friendsgiving gathering. Today I’ll be  featuring one of my favorite harvest salads. 

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with EASY Cranberry Dressing - a flavor packed harvest side using fresh, nourishing and whole ingredients {gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free}

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Easy Cranberry

Dressing

Friendsgiving. What a concept, right? Many of us spend the actual day of Thanksgiving with family members, some of us shuttling from house to house, stuffing ourselves with as much as we can eat. And of course, giving thanks for the food on the table, those around us, and this wonderful country we live in.

It is hard though, trying to see everyone you possibly care about in one day, to share this sacred meal. Here’s where Friendsgiving comes in! Friendsgiving is a hugely popular trend now; groups pick a mutual day to celebrate with harvest dishes, merriment, and the same attitude of thankfulness for those around the table.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Cranberries


What a great idea! I had every intention of hosting a full-fledged, sit down Friendsgiving this year, but my plans are slowly evolving to throwing a football bash the Saturday after thanksgiving. So a Friendsgiving/ tailgate mashup, if you will. However, I still teamed up with some of my FAVORITE blogger buds and we put together a killer recipe guide to throwing your very own Friendsgiving.

This post features all sorts of recipe inspiration for any dish you may want to pair with that turkey bird. I’ll be sharing my recipe for Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Homemade Cranberry Dressing.

Cranberry, Kale & Butternut Salad

And can I just say that this dressing is life changing? Because we infuse the garlic with the olive oil (which takes all of 30 seconds), we’re creating a really rich and balanced flavor that actually pairs wonderfully with the tangy mustard and tart cranberries. Healthy foods have a tendency to get snubbed during the holidays, but with the flavor punch that this packs, even the pickiest of eaters may be whistling a different tune.

The ingredients for this side are simple and easily found. Most of the items can be found in the produce section with the rest of them living in the condiment or baking aisles. I like to have frozen cranberries on hand, and they are usually hanging out with the other frozen fruits in the store. I’ll explain how I made this rustic side below, but first, let’s get planning.

We can’t have JUST salad at Friendsgiving! Here is a compilation of some seriously fantastic recipes to kick your gathering up a notch. The links are all provided so you can easily click & find the recipes. My apologies in advance, I know I’m making these choices hard on you!

OK, back to the deets on this Kale & Butternut Squash Salad with Easy Cranberry Dressing.

Loaded Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Cranberry Dressing

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Butternut Squash

Kale – I prefer curly kale for this, so look for the common variety with really wavy edges

Frozen Cranberries

Fresh Garlic

Dijon Mustard

Olive Oil & Olive Oil Spray

Pure Maple Syrup

Pumpkin Seeds

Serving Kale and Butternut Squash Salad this Friendsgiving

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Cooking technique is everything in this recipe so I want you to pay attention to the way I’m telling you to prepare this salad. It is very simple, but perfect preparation makes all the difference, and you’ll be working on your cooking skills at the same time! We’re not doing anything complicated, but I want you to notice how I’m prepping/ washing veggies, how much oil I’m using as I roast, and when I’m telling you to add salt. Preparing foods mindfully is something I’m working on and I want you to do the same with me!

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

Preheat the oven to 400.

Start by thoroughly rinsing your kale and placing it on a towel to dry. You want to give it time to dry before cooking it so it doesn’t wilt further. We’re going to cook the kale for a very short amount of time and with a teeny bit of oil to just soften it. We still want a little crunch, and we don’t want it to cook down TOO much.

Begin peeling your butternut squash and dice it into about ½ inch cubes, or small bite size. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with olive oil, lay these down on the sheet, spray again with oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp of salt. We’re going to salt each layer of this salad while preparing it to develop those layers of flavor. We’re not using a lot of oil here because I want these to dry out a little and firm up with a crisp. Place in the oven for 30-40 mins turning every 10 mins or so.

When you put your butternut squash in the oven, add your 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a small, heated saucepan on medium low. Mince the garlic clove. When the oil is warm, add your garlic and let this toast for about 2 minutes. Watch this during the 2 minutes. Once the garlic turns slightly golden, remove it from the heat and pour it into a glass jar. Infusing the olive oil and garlic makes ALLLL the difference in this recipe. The first time I tried this, I just sautéed the garlic alone and added it to the oil afterward. Cooking them together is quick, simple, but pays off big time in flavor. Isn’t that amazing?!

Harvest Kale Salad

When the garlic oil is in the jar, return the saucepan back to the heat, turn the burner to high and add the cranberries and water. Bring to a boil and turn to medium high. You can let this go while the cranberries burst and reduce – which will take about 10 minutes. This will look watery at first, but I promise it will reduce and get thick and bubbly.

Pat your kale dry and take it to your cutting board. Remove that hard stem in the middle and cut to pieces about the size of your palm of smaller. If you have first-time kale eaters at the table, smaller pieces are best to avoid any rabbit-like feelings (see, I try to be funny). Heat your largest saucepan on medium high and add ¼ tsp of olive oil. This doesn’t seem like much but I don’t want that kale getting too soggy on you. Put the kale in the pan with ¼ tsp of salt and toss for 30 seconds to 1 min. That is ALL. Just until it starts to soften and deepen in color. Remove it from the heat and place in your bowl.

By this point, your squash should start to brown a bit, if not, turn your oven on low broil and let it go for 2-3 mins. When the cranberries have reduced, pour them into the glass jar and add the salt, maple syrup and Dijon. Screw on a lid and shake. You dressing is DONE! This should be think and some of the cranberry skins will be a tad chunky. I think this adds fabulous texture.

Easy Cranberry Dressing on a Harvest Salad

When your squash is finished, scoop it to top the kale, and sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds. Top with the dressing just before eating & wait for the thankful feels to hit ya.

This dressing works great on any salad and you’ll have a little leftover, I usually end up using about half in this recipe. I know this seems like a lot of prep, but I was able to do it in about 30 mins! And let’s be honest, you can’t beat that ingredient list!

Harvest Time Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

Tell me! Are you hosting a Friendsgiving this year?! What is your favorite harvest dish to make?

xoxx,

Miss AK

Kale Salad

5.0 from 1 reviews
Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Easy Cranberry Dressing
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Oven: 400 degrees {gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian}
Ingredients
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 large bunch of Curly Kale – I prefer curly kale for this, so look for the common variety with really wavy edges
  • 1 cup of Frozen Cranberries
  • 2 cloves of Fresh Garlic
  • 1 tsp of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp + ¼ tsp of Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Spray (optional but makes roasting squash easier)
  • 1 tbsp of Pure Maple Syrup
  • ¼ cup of Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • Pepper to taste to finish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Start by thoroughly rinsing your kale and placing it on a towel to dry. You want to give it time to dry before cooking it so it doesn’t wilt further.
  3. Begin peeling your butternut squash and dice it into about ½ inch cubes, or small bite size.
  4. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with olive oil, lay these down on the sheet, spray again with oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp of salt.
  5. We’re not using a lot of oil here because I want these to dry out a little and firm up with a crisp.
  6. Place in the oven for 30-40 mins turning every 10 mins or so.
  7. When you put your butternut squash in the oven, add your 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a small, heated saucepan on medium low.
  8. Mince the garlic clove.
  9. When the oil is warm, add your garlic and let this toast for about 2 minutes. Watch this during the 2 minutes.
  10. Once the garlic turns slightly golden, remove it from the heat and pour it into a glass jar. Infusing the olive oil and garlic makes ALLLL the difference in this recipe.
  11. When the garlic oil is in the jar, return the saucepan back to the heat, turn the burner to high and add the cranberries and water.
  12. Bring to a boil and turn to medium high.
  13. You can let this go while the cranberries burst and reduce – which will take about 10 minutes. This will look watery at first, but I promise it will reduce and get thick and bubbly.
  14. Pat your kale dry and take it to your cutting board.
  15. Remove that hard stem in the middle and cut to pieces about the size of your palm of smaller. If you have first-time kale eaters at the table, smaller pieces are best to avoid any rabbit-like feelings (see, I try to be funny).
  16. Heat your largest saucepan on medium high and add ¼ tsp of olive oil. This doesn’t seem like much but I don’t want that kale getting too soggy on you.
  17. Put the kale in the pan with ¼ tsp of salt and toss for 30 seconds to 1 min. That is ALL. Just until it starts to soften and deepen in color.
  18. Remove the kale from the heat and place in your bowl.
  19. By this point, your squash should start to brown a bit, if not, turn your oven on low broil and let it go for 2-3 mins.
  20. When the cranberries have reduced, pour them into the glass jar and add the salt, maple syrup and Dijon.
  21. Screw on a lid and shake.
  22. You dressing is DONE!
  23. This should be think and some of the cranberry skins will be a tad chunky. I think this adds fabulous texture.
  24. When your squash is finished, scoop it to top the kale, and sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds.
  25. Top with the dressing just before eating & wait for the thankful feels to hit ya.

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with EASY Cranberry Dressing - a flavor packed harvest side using fresh, nourishing and whole ingredients {gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free}

32 Comments
  • Farrah

    Reply

    Yay! I love butternut squash and just recently grabbed more at the grocery store, so I’ve been looking for more excuses to use it in recipes! This looks delicious!

    • allmcd3

      I hope you try it out girl!!!! xoxx

  • Emily

    Reply

    Butternut squash is SO GOOD! I so agree Allie that I want to be more mindful of preparing recipes. I’m so guilty of being impatient, and lately the Lord has really been teaching me to be patient and deliberate and conscientious as I cook or bake.

    • allmcd3

      I am right there with you sista! I have to remind myself that I want to be a good cook and it is my job to teach myself and others how to be! If i keep rushing and preparing things haphazardly, I won’t improve!! xoxx

  • Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday

    Reply

    This is everything I want in a salad! I’ve been loving all sorts of squash lately, and it looks phenomenal with these ingredients!

    • allmcd3

      Oh I’m so so glad!!!

  • Aya @ A Healthy Story

    Reply

    OMG YUM is what I have to say about this haha. I don’t eat kale as much as I should but this recipe is going to make me a convert, I just know it!

    • allmcd3

      It is hard to get into! That’s why i suggest cutting it into small pieces and hitting it in the pan over a little heat so you don’t feel as rabbit-like!

  • Briana

    Reply

    I can not wait to try this salad at thanksgiving! I might just have to make it now & then again in a few weeks!

    • allmcd3

      I feel like you will LOVE this! So fresh & clean but hearty, too! Thanks babe!

  • Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    Reply

    A Friendsgiving/tailgate mashup sounds fun, and I am all over this salad! If I end up hosting Thanksgiving, I’m definitely making this bad boy!

    • allmcd3

      Oh I hope you get to host! I’d love to someday!!!

  • Ellie | Hungry by Nature

    Reply

    Your Friendsgiving / tailgate mashup sounds like fun! And I’m just obsessed with this salad. I have a feeling I’m going to be putting that dressing on errrthang.
    Ellie | Hungry by Nature recently posted…Cauliflower Cheddar and Rice GratinMy Profile

    • allmcd3

      The dressing is literally CRACK! I actually spilled it and ate it off the counter…sooo…

  • Britney

    Reply

    This looks super yummy! I pinned it already! I basically just save all your recipes to Pinterest now! 🙂 This looks hearty enough to be a good lunch as well, though if made as a side dish, I’m not sure if there would be leftovers for the next day!

    • allmcd3

      Back at you, girl! You’re my go-to for fashion inspo! We need each other – haha! And I totally agree! It is great topped with grilled chicken!

  • Sarah- A Whisk and Two Wands

    Reply

    This is my kind of salad!! Love all the flavors, so many of my favs. The dressing sounds delicious! Happy Friendsgiving!

    • allmcd3

      Thank you so much, girl! You too!

  • Kelly @ Eat the Gains

    Reply

    Girl this dressing sounds amazing! Last year my bf bought like 3 huge bags of frozen cranberries at Costco since they are one sale. Let’s just say we had a lot for awhile haha. I think we will be doing a Friendsgiving for actual Thanksgiving since our families aren’t close. Should be fun! Happy Friendsgiving to you!
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains recently posted…Roasted Sweet Potato & Beet StacksMy Profile

    • allmcd3

      That’s hilarious! I actually love them plain, I realized. They are fun to suck on for a tart treat. Happy Freidnsgiving!!!!

  • masala girl

    Reply

    uohhh i loove salads! this would be great to make a huuge batch of and have sides for everyone during a dinner, but then i get to enjoy it as a main the next day! 😀 meal prep/awesome leftovers all in one! love the dressing, too.

    • allmcd3

      Thank you SO much! I feel the same way about meal prep!

  • Rachel (LittleChefBigAppetite)

    Reply

    What a gorgeous salad for the holidays!

  • Rebecca Dickinson

    Reply

    Do you read minds? Because I seriously have had all of these items on my grocery list and now I know EXACTLY what I am going to do with them! Looks so delicious Allie, can not wait to try!!

  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    Reply

    My cranberry obsession for the season has begun! YUM!

    • allmcd3

      SAME!!!!

  • Miss Polkadot

    Reply

    “Avoid any rabbit-like feelings” – ha! That’s a good tip for my family who would probably give me questioning looks if I told them to eat raw kale. While kale has been popular here forever it’s usually in a stewed dish, never raw. I really like the look of your salad, though. Packed with all kinds of delicious food and so pretty.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted…Good good links #168My Profile

    • allmcd3

      Glad to hear that they like it, still! I hope you can give it a shot 🙂

  • Elissa

    Reply

    I have all these ingredients at my house right now – maybe I should make this today! It sounds delicious.
    Elissa recently posted…Whole roasted cauliflowerMy Profile

    • allmcd3

      Oh I’m so glad that you do! How fantastic!

  • Grace

    Reply

    Hi!

    I’m excited to try this recipe out tomorrow. I was just wondering what you do with the maple syrup? Thanks!

    • Miss AK

      Hi Grace! This is kind of tricky to see in the directions, I apologize if it was confusing! You add the maple syrup in with the cranberry dressing! Hope this helps 🙂

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