Roasted Acorn Squash Kale Salad with Orange Vinaigrette


Roasted vegetables make the best salad components. And squash is no exception in this roasted acorn squash kale salad with a citrus vinaigrette. Thought I can’t really take all the credit for it.

Way back in December, I went to a company holiday party. So last year right? Anyway, it was super fancy, and there was all kinds of food, including a bacon bar. With parsnip bacon. And carrot bacon. So carnivores and herbivores alike could partake.

But what surprised me most was not just how many vegetarian (and vegan!) options there were, but actually how many vegetables were served. (I guess you have to balance the bacon bar some way right?)

For a lot of the classic bites, there were creative vegetable forward ones too. Mushroom stuffed mushrooms, vegetable reubens, falafel sliders. And this roasted acorn squash kale salad. Well, not this kale salad *exactly* since this is my attempt to recreate it based on the conveniently placed description and my palatial memory.

Roasted Acorn Squash Kale Salad

The original salad used roasted acorn squash so I stayed true. But you could also use delicata squash, which requires no peeling. Both these squashes have a flavor that’s nuttier than a butternut squash and roast a bit drier as well. The texture helps soak up all that delightful dressing I mentioned earlier.

Really, the combination of flavors and textures of this roasted acorn squash kale salad are spot on. A bit of pungency from the sliced red onions and bold olive oil. Tart sweetness from the orange juice and dried cranberries. Earthy nuttiness from the walnuts and roasted squash. And fresh, crisp, crunchiness of romaine lettuce and kale. And you get to prep the salad while the squash is roasted! Which means you can get food to your face (or on the table) in 30 minutes.

Orange Juice Vinaigrette Dressing

What really brings everything together in this roasted acorn squash kale salad is actually the dressing. A simple orange juice vinaigrette with a bit of cayenne pepper for heat. The sweet and tart juice with a bit of apple cider (or champagne!) vinegar. Use a quality olive oil for dressing. Something super verdant and fresh is an excellent choice. Avoid cooking olive oil for the dressing if you can. For this recipe, I used Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil which was grassy and pungent and had an awesome pop up pour spout in the bottle.

This roasted acorn squash kale salad is a perfect winter salad for lunch or dinner. Other winter salads I can recommend include this roasted cabbage wedge salad, this spinach farro salad, and this warm mushroom salad with Asian slaw.

Or, if you’ve got some health oriented resolution for the new year, let me point out that this roasted acorn squash kale salad is vegan, gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 compliant. Not that I’m looking for compliance. I’m just looking for delicious. And those last two categories are hard, given my predilection for beans and legumes as well as the the tendency of my recipes to be vegetarian. (However, if you are looking for Whole 30 recipes, check out my friend Danielle’s Whole30 January extravaganza over on Our Salty Kitchen.)

However you describe your eating preferences, your resolutions, or your 30 day cleanses, this roasted acorn squash kale salad is calling your name. Can you hear it?

5 from 1 vote

Roasted Acorn Squash Kale Salad

A roasted acorn squash kale salad with an orange vinaigrette dressing is perfect for winter lunch or dinner. Vegan, gluten free, paleo and Whole30 friendly.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 435 kcal


Roasted Acorn Squash Kale Salad

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Orange Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1 orange, about ½ cup, plus zest
  • 1/2 cup quality olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


Roast the acorn squash

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel and dice acorn squash. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Spread the squash pieces evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes until squash is tender. Alternately, cut squash in half. Brush with olive oil and roast cut side down until tender, about 1 hour. Then peel and dice.

Make the salad dressing

  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar.
  2. Shake vigorously until combined.

Prepare and assemble the roasted acorn squash kale salad

  1. While squash is roasting, remove ribs and stems from kale. Chop leaves roughly into bite sized pieces or tear by hand. Toss with half the dressing in a large bowl and let the kale soften while the squash roasts.
  2. Trim ends of romaine lettuce, then chop into bite sized pieces.
  3. When the squash is tender, combine the lettuce, red onion, walnuts and cranberries with the dressed kale. Add squash and the remaining dressing. Toss well and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Seasoned Secret

Taking this salad on the road? It’s a hearty salad for lunches mid-week. I recommend bringing two containers, one with the dressed kale and another separate container from the other ingredients. When you’re ready to eat, combine everything together.


Leftover roast chicken makes an excellent addition to this roasted acorn squash kale salad. If you’re a cheese fiend like me, feta or goat cheese make a nice addition as well.

Check the Fridge

Pecans or almonds can be substituted for the walnuts in this recipe. Or go nut free with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Likewise, currants or golden raisins are an excellent swap for the dried cranberries. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, try the dressing with champagne vinegar.



  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 6:46 am

    1 - this looks AMAZING. I have some weird squash I got in my winter CSA, and now I know what to do with it (because if acorn works, I’m assuming most other winter squashes will work too, yes?
    2 - bacon bar? yes.
    3 - thanks for the shout-out <3

    • Reply
      January 5, 2018 at 6:52 pm

      Yep, other hard winter squash are definitely appropriate!

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