Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Somewhere in the depths of my soul there’s a small child screaming about pumpkins, Halloween, spooky things, Hocus Pocus, and the whole nine yards. She’s not just screaming during this particular time of year, but every season. I long for 50-60 degree weather, coziness, comforting recipes, and warm smells wafting from the kitchen. It’s why I can’t leave the northeast, for fear of losing fall. And it’s also why I’m beginning to light fall candles at the start of September, while it’s still 86 degrees midday, and creating fall recipes like this one.

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins is the perfect segue from late summer to fall in my mind. You still have the crisp notions of a salad, perfect for warm weather eating, but the flavors are comforting and hearty. The warm flavors of the salad are perfectly balanced by a not-too-sweet, not-too-tangy orange vinaigrette. It’s delicious!

Ingredients needed to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The ingredients list is simple. For the salad itself, you’ll need 1-2 heads kale (I prefer tuscan kale, but any variety works), one bag of frozen butternut squash cubes (you could also use fresh and roast it at 425 until it’s tender and caramelized, if you can find a fresh butternut squash this early in the season), blue cheese crumbles, golden raisins, and roasted salted pepitas. I love using pepitas not only for their flavor, but because they are high in loads of good stuff like zinc, magnesium, iron, and manganese. Give a quick google search re: those vitamins/minerals and why they are great to supplement in your diet (I’m not a dietician, so doing your own research is critical here).

For the orange vinaigrette, you will need the following:

-Juice and zest of 1 large orange

Olive oil

Apple cider vinegar

-Garlic powder

-Onion powder

-Ground nutmeg (I buy whole nutmeg and grind it using this tool– the flavor is so incredible compared to pre-ground)

-Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The tools needed to make this salad are so minimal, so I’ve listed them instead of providing the usual explanations for each item:

Medium cast-iron skillet

-Large mixing bowl

-Small mixing bowl

Large chef’s knife

-Cutting board


-Box grater or microplane (for zesting)

-Measuring spoons/cups

Nutmeg grinder (optional)

How to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The process to make this salad is incredibly simple, as with most salads. You begin by removing the kale from the stems and thinly chopping it. At this point I typically massage the kale with a little olive oil and sea salt and let it sit while I prep the rest of the salad. This helps break the kale down and make it tender, rather than chewy. I also think it releases some of the bitterness from the leaves.

I’ve chosen to use frozen butternut squash cubes in this recipe because I haven’t found any fresh butternut squashes in my local stores yet. Frozen is easy and less time-consuming, although it doesn’t get as caramelized as roasting a fresh squash. If you wanted to roast a fresh squash, that would be lovely. Simply cut into cubes, drizzle it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 425 until tender and browned on the edges. If you go the frozen route, sauté in olive oil over medium heat with salt and pepper until the squash is cooked through.

All that’s left to do is make the dressing, which comes together in one bowl. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil, then slowly stream it in while whisking constantly to make the vinaigrette.

To assemble the salad, transfer the kale to a serving bowl or large rimmed plate. Layer the butternut squash, blue cheese, golden raisins, and pepitas, then drizzle with the orange vinaigrette. Done!

Looking for more delicious salad recipes?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook to satisfy your green tooth!

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Curried Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Recipe Ingredients

For the Salad

1 head kale, stems removed and finely chopped

1 10-12oz bag frozen butternut squash, or 1 ½ cups roasted butternut squash

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup blue cheese crumbles

¼ cup roasted, salted pepitas

For the Orange Vinaigrette

Juice and zest of 1 large orange (about ⅛ cup)

⅛ cup olive oil

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

⅛ tsp garlic powder

⅛ tsp onion powder

⅛ tsp salt

Dash ground nutmeg (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Wash and dry kale thoroughly. Remove the stems from the kale and discard. Finely chop the leaves and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then massage oil and salt into the kale using your hands. Let sit while you prepare the other components.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the frozen butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Make the dressing. Combine orange juice and zest, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using) and whisk until mixed. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Assemble the salad. Transfer the massaged kale to a serving bowl or plate, then arrange the butternut squash, blue cheese, golden raisins, and pepitas on top. Drizzle generously with the orange vinaigrette. Serve and enjoy!

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