Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Spiced Pecans

October  4, 2022
1 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I created this salad with local vegetables and other locally sourced products for a party earlier this fall. The balance of flavors worked so well, it was a mix of things that was meant to be. - lisaiscooking —lisaiscooking

Test Kitchen Notes

Cutting the kale into fine ribbons and massaging balsamic vinegar into it helps tenderize and wilt the often bitter green. Roasted butternut squash and lightly spiced pecans lend both sweetness and a variety of textures to this brightly colored salad. - Lauren —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cakes pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon chimayo chile powder or cayenne powder or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2-4 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into 3/4-inch cubes. On a large baking sheet, toss cubed squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until squash is tender and allow to cool. The squash should be tender but not mushy. It should hold it's shape when tossed in the salad but still be cooked through. (The squash can be roasted a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk one egg white with chimayo chile powder, sugar, and a good pinch of salt. Whisk just until the egg white is foamy. Toss the pecans in the egg white mixture and stir to coat the pecans well. Using your hands, place pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet leaving excess egg white in the mixing bowl. Toast in the 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes checking from time to time to be sure the pecans are not getting too brown. (The pecans can be toasted a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container.)
  3. Cut thick parts of ribs from leaves of kale. Then, cut leaves in half lenghthwise and then into ribbons crosswise. Soak cut leaves in a large bowl of water. Swish to remove grit, and then allow grit to fall to bottom of bowl. Pick leaves up out of water and place in basket of a salad spinner and spin dry. Placed washed leaves in a large mixing bowl. Add finely diced red onion. Pour two tablespooons aged balsamic over kale and onion and squeeze and scrunch the leaves with your hands. You want to tenderize the kale and work the vinegar into the leaves.
  4. Add roasted squash cubes, toasted pecans, two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, and carefully toss to combine so squash cubes remain whole. The oil used in roasting the squash along with the pecans add richness to the salad, so nut much additional olive oil is needed. I used about two tablespoons, but taste as you add.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Culinista Annouchka
    Culinista Annouchka
  • monkeymom
  • TasteFood
  • Lisa Lawless
    Lisa Lawless

10 Reviews

Cara G. December 22, 2018
I found the recommended time for the squash to be too short and the time for the nuts to be too long. I liked the squash a bit more cooked and the nuts softer.
Nadine December 15, 2015
So, I love the sound of this recipe but am vegan, so the egg whites are out. Any suggestions for what I can substitute and still be able to use the pecans?
Lisa L. December 15, 2015
Nadine: You could just toss the pecans with a little vegetable oil and the chile powder and salt before toasting.
Jennifer March 3, 2014
Wow! That was awesome. My fiance and I LOVED it. I did a couple of things differently... thinly sliced and roasted the onion with the squash and also threw some garlic cloves in there. Also, I added that mix to the kale when it was still warm to wilt the kale a bit. Heaven!!!
DcAthvf March 19, 2013
Recipe says 1 1/2 "cake" pecans. Should it be "cups?" And roasting pecans at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes crates charcoal, not toasted nuts.
lisaiscooking March 19, 2013
You've never measured pecans by the cake? Yes, of course, that should be cups. And, perhaps your oven runs a bit hotter than mine. I've never produced charcoal in 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
DcAthvf March 19, 2013
You are so very lucky to be so very clever.
Culinista A. November 16, 2010
This looks delicious!! Going to make it this week!
monkeymom November 15, 2010
This looks like a great balance of ingredients! Will definitely try it.
TasteFood November 13, 2010
I love kale with butternut squash and I like your technique of tenderizing the leaves. This sounds like a great recipe.