4.50 from 4 votes

Hearty Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

 January 10, 2023

When it comes to the colder, winter months, salads often tend to get forgotten. After all, salads are known for being cold, refreshing, and light. However, if there was ever a perfect winter salad, it would have to be this one. Introducing my Hearty Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette: a warm, comforting salad full of tender kale, cozy butternut squash, and a delicious homemade dijon vinaigrette. This salad is gluten-free, grain-free, and can easily be made dairy-free, so what are you waiting for? Run, don’t walk, to your kitchen and go make this salad today!

A large bowl of the winter kale salad, sitting on a countertop with golden spoons and forks placed into it

Friends, call me crazy, but I truly believe that salads are a year-round food. While some people think that salads are just a way to stay cool and healthy during the summer time, I truly believe that a good salad is a staple of any healthy diet. Take my Ultimate Kale Salad, for example. This salad is one of the most popular recipes on my blog, and tends to make its way onto New Year’s Resolution meal plans, Easter dinner tables, and even Thanksgiving dinner tables too!

And of course, since my name is Kalejunkie, I can’t resist a delicious kale salad recipe. From my Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad to my Copycat Hillstone Emerald Kale Salad, to even my Ultimate Kale Tabouleh, there are so many ways to enjoy delicious, tender kale. If you don’t think you like kale, I encourage you to try one of these recipes. It may just change your mind!

But back to THIS salad recipe. This recipe is perfect for the wintertime because it is full of warming ingredients to keep your belly feeling cozy and happy. From the warm, roasted butternut squash, to crispy pepitas and salty parmesan cheese, this salad is full of ingredients that you will love, and is truly anything but boring.

What You Need to Make This Hearty Kale Salad

  • Dino Kale: You can really use any kale variety you like, but I always recommend Dino (aka lacinato) kale. I always tear the kale leaves away from the stem, because the stem is bitter and I don’t use it in the salad. But if you enjoy it, by all means, feel free to include it. I also recommend chopping the kale thin- this will help the kale get nice and soft.
  • Butternut Squash: Butternut squash is one of my favorite winter ingredients! It’s warm, tender, hearty, and makes this salad perfect for this season.
  • Shallot: Shallot is the perfect aromatic for this salad, and truly adds the perfect flavor!
  • Dried Cranberries: This salad is full of savory ingredients, so I love adding in dried cranberries for a boost of Vitamin C and an unexpected sweetness!
  • Pepitas: Pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) add the perfect crunch to this salad! If you really want to take it to the next level, I also highly recommend toasting your pepitas lightly, in a pan, before adding them to the salad.
A large bowl, sitting on a countertop, with the winter kale salad inside of it
  • Pistachios: And because why have one crunchy element when you can have two? Pistachios add a delicious crunch to this salad – don’t skip them!
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese adds a salty, tangy flavor that truly makes this salad shine. If you are vegan, or prefer to keep this salad dairy-free, you can simply substitute a dairy-free parmesan cheese instead.
  • Olive Oil: This is one of those recipes, where you can taste the quality of the olive oil that you use. So if you have a nice bottle, bust it out and use it in this recipe. Your dressing will be out of this world. But again, just use what you have, it will still be amazing.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: A touch of balsamic helps this dressing come together. Don’t skip this!
  • Maple Syrup: To help balance out the tangy and salty flavors of this salad, a little maple syrup adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Dijon Mustard: To make this dijon vinaigrette you, of course, need some dijon mustard. It adds the perfect tang to this dressing!
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper: Of course, any dressing isn’t complete without a little salt and pepper!
All of the ingredients needed to make this winter kale salad, laid out on a countertop

How to Make This Perfect, Winter Kale Salad

Making this salad is so simple and easy, you’ll want to meal prep it every week! Simply start by preheating your oven to 400 F. Next, peel and cube your butternut squash and add it to a medium-sized bowl.

Toss your butternut squash cubes in olive oil, then transfer them to a baking sheet and roast them at 400 F. for 40 minutes, being sure to toss them at the halfway point. While the butternut squash is roasting, prepare the dijon vinaigrette by whisking together all of your vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl, until fully combined. Taste and adjust salt as needed, then set aside.

A bowl of the winter kale salad, with the dressing being actively poured on top of it

Next, prepare your kale by chopping it and adding it to a large bowl. Add one teaspoon of salt to the bowl, then use your hands to massage the salt into the kale until it begins to break down. This should take approximately one minute. Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven, let cool, then add it to the bowl with the kale.

Finally, add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl: the shallot, dried cranberries, pepitas, pistachios, and parmesan cheese. Once done, pour your dressing on top, then toss the salad until all of the ingredients are fully combined and coated in the dressing. Then, serve and enjoy! Store any leftovers in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to three days.

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! And, since I practically live on Instagram, be sure to tag me in your creations so that I can repost them! xx

** Photography by Tanya Pilgrim
A large bowl of the winter kale salad, sitting on a countertop with golden spoons and forks placed into it

Hearty Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

4.50 from 4 votes
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
SERVES 4 Servings
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When it comes to the colder, winter months, salads often tend to get forgotten. After all, salads are known for being cold, refreshing, and light. However, if there was ever a perfect winter salad, it would have to be this one. Introducing my Hearty Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette: a warm, comforting salad full of tender kale, cozy butternut squash, and a delicious homemade dijon vinaigrette. This salad is gluten-free, grain-free, and can easily be made dairy-free, so what are you waiting for? Run, don't walk, to your kitchen and go make this salad today!

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 Bunch Dino Kale stems removed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Cups Butternut Squash peeled, cubed, and roasted
  • 1 Shallot sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Pepitas
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachios
  • 2/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese grated

For the Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Start by preheating your oven to 400 F.
  • Next, peel and cube your butternut squash and add it to a medium-sized bowl.
  • Toss your butternut squash cubes in olive oil, then transfer them to a baking sheet and roast them at 400 F. for 40 minutes, being sure to toss them at the halfway point.
  • While the butternut squash is roasting, prepare the dijon vinaigrette by whisking together all of your vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl, until fully combined. Taste and adjust salt as needed, then set aside.
  • Next, prepare your kale by chopping it and adding it to a large bowl. Add one teaspoon of salt to the bowl, then use your hands to massage the salt into the kale until it begins to break down. This should take approximately one minute.
  • Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven, let cool, then add it to the bowl with the kale.
  • Finally, add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl: the shallot, dried cranberries, pepitas, pistachios, and parmesan cheese.
  • Pour your dressing on top, then toss the salad until all of the ingredients are fully combined and coated in the dressing.
  • Once done, serve and enjoy! Store any leftovers in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to three days.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see what you made – tag @kalejunkie
in your posts and I’ll re-share!

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  1. 5 stars
    I did make a few additions and tweaks. But that was based off what I had and needed to use up. I omitted the pistachios and cranberries because I didn’t have them. Kept the pepitas and used pomegranate in place of the cranberries. I also added 1 small diced apple. Probably a pink lady. I added cauliflower, 1 sweet potato and an acorn squad to the roasting squash, and then added it all into the salad. Otherwise I kept it as is. Out of respect for the integrity of the recipe I aimed to only use like ingredients. It was honestly so delicious. I cannot wait for left over salad tomorrow.

    • I am so glad that you found a version of this recipe that works well for you, Brianne! Thank you so much for making it, and for leaving such a kind review!

  2. 5 stars
    My husband was a little iffy on kale until I made him this salad. We added some ground turkey for extra protein and it was perfect! This is the ultimate fall and winter salad.

    • Yay! I am so happy to hear that, Stephanie! Thank you so much for making this recipe, and for leaving such a kind review!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. I think this dish was talked about more than any of the others.

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Tamara! Thank you so much for making it, and for leaving such a kind review!

  4. 3 stars
    Sadly, this salad did not turn out as expected. 🙁 I love all the ingredients, but the proportions seemed didn’t feel balanced to the amount of kale there was. Also, it was way too salty and wilted after massaging for one minute. It didn’t look anything like your photos where the kale looks more crips and raw. I think next time I’ll include more kale, less salt and less massaging.

    • Woohoo! I am so glad that you loved this recipe, JB! Thank you so much for making it, and for leaving such a kind review!