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Easy Fall Kale Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Fall kale salad features tender kale, toasted pecans, and pumpkin seeds with crisp seasonal apples, dried cranberries, and roasted acorn squash. Toss the salad in a maple-spiced vinaigrette to create a new fall staple. Plus, the easy to make autumn salad is gluten-free and vegan!

Fall Kale Salad on a plate with a side of dressing.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Kale: Massage the kale to create the base for the salad.
  • Apple: Tart green apples and sweet honey-crisp apples are beautiful and add a perfect crunch. You can use sweet pink lady apples instead of honey crisp.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Toast the halved pecans and hulled pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a warm addition to the salad.
  • Dried Cranberries: Rehydrate dried cranberries and add them to the salad for a beautiful pop of color. You can also use fresh pomegranate seeds.
  • Acorn Squash: Prepare and season one small acorn squash. Roast it to perfection in the oven or air fryer. For more cooking instructions, follow these tips and tricks for how to cook acorn squash.
  • Maple Vinaigrette: Prepare homemade maple vinaigrette with orange juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, finely diced shallot, fresh garlic, salt, and black pepper.

Additions and Substitutions

How to Make Fall Kale Salad

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below. 

Step 1: Combine the ingredients for the dressing in an airtight container and whisk to incorporate.

Dressing in a mason jar.

Step 2: Cut the acorn squash and add it to an air fryer or oven to cook for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Acorn squash cooking in the air fryer basket.

Step 3: While the squash is cooking, prepare the salad by layer the chopped kale onto two serving plates, and adding the sliced apples and cranberries.

Kale on a plate to create the base for the salad.

Step 4: Dry toast the pecans and pepitas in a small skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes; toss them over the salad.

Pecans and seeds toasting in a pan.

Step 5: Remove the squash from the air fryer basket and place them onto the salad. Drizzle with dressing or serve it on the side, and enjoy!

Fall Kale Salad on a plate with a side of dressing.

The Secret to Delicious Kale Salad

How to Massage Kale Leaves

Massaging kale for salad is a technique used to improve its texture and taste. Kale leaves can be fibrous, and massaging them helps to break down some of the toughness and bitterness, making the kale more enjoyable to eat.

Whip up the salad and pair it with one of these cozy fall recipes!  

Fall Kale Salad on a plate with a side of dressing.

Serving Suggestions

Delicious fall kale salad will give you all the feelings of fall, and you can pair it with one of these tasty meals:

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Storage: I recommend storing the salad and dressing separately. Store the base for my fall kale salad in an airtight container in the fridge for three days. Add the salad dressing to an airtight jar and store it in the refrigerator for one week.

Frequently Asked Questions

How healthy is kale salad?

Kale is very nutritious and contains vitamins A [1], K [1], C [1], calcium [1], and potassium [1]. The dried fruit, squash, nuts, and seeds take this salad to the next level, and it feels like you’re eating the rainbow. 

However, if the sugar from maple syrup is a concern, consider using liquid monk fruit and olive oil instead of orange juice. It will be less sweet, but it’s a tasty alternative.

More Salad Recipes:

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Fall Kale Salad on a plate with a side of dressing.

Fall Kale Salad

Tressa Jamil
Easy fall kale salad features tender kale, toasted pecans, pepitas, crisp seasonal apples, and roasted acorn squash tossed in maple vinaigrette.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Servings
Calories 391 kcal
Ingredients
  
For the Kale Salad:
  • 2 bunches frsh kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 green or honey crisp apple, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, rehydrated
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped or whole, and toasted
  • 1 tablespoon hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 small acorn squash, cubed
For the Fall Kale Salad Dressing:
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
 
  • Combine the ingredients for the dressing in an airtight container and whisk to incorporate.
  • Cut the acorn squash and add it to an air fryer or oven to cook for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  • While the squash is cooking, prepare the salad by layer the chopped kale onto two serving plates, and adding the sliced apples and cranberries.
  • Dry toast the pecans and pepitas in a small skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes; toss them over the salad.
  • Remove the squash from the air fryer basket and place them onto the salad. Drizzle with dressing or serve it on the side, and enjoy!
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • If using curly kale, massage it for 2-3 minutes before adding it to the serving plate.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving + Dressing | Calories: 391 kcal | Carbohydrates: 52 g | Protein: 14 g | Fat: 18 g | Sodium: 652 mg | Fiber: 17 g | Sugar: 17 g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!

Sources:

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Shariq

Sunday 16th of October 2022

This fall salad with squash was an absolute treat! Especially with all the in-season ingredients.

Tressa Jamil

Wednesday 19th of October 2022

You've got to love seasonal recipes!

Kira

Thursday 13th of October 2022

It's basically Fall on one plate!

Tressa Jamil

Thursday 13th of October 2022

I couldn't agree more!