Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale

If Shakespeare were a cookbook author, Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale would have been his masterwork. This recipe is head-over-heels, make you act like a fool, write a sonnet about it, autumn romance.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Freekeh Salad with KaleI realize I often blab on about my love for certain foods (ahem, last week’s Brussels sprouts declaration), and it is because I truly cherish every recipe I post here—I wouldn’t waste either of our time by sharing a recipe with which I wasn’t smitten. Today’s recipe for Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad, however, feels especially personal, perhaps because I honestly feel like I could eat some version of it every single day for the rest of my life. It has everything I’m looking for in a well-balanced, all-in-one lunch, and it would make a smash-hit side for dinner too.

Maple Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Freekeh Salad with Cranberries and KaleThis glorious whole grain salad is a fantastic blend of caramelized butternut squash, garlicky kale, whole grains, toasty walnuts, and tart cranberries, tossed together in a maple Dijon vinaigrette. It’s cozy, hearty, and tastes like retreating inside for comfort on a crisp fall day. I’d like to wake up every morning knowing that I have a little container of it waiting for me in the refrigerator.

Our salad sonnet begins with an ingredient I anticipate every fall, and might love even more than Brussels spouts: butternut squash. It’s easy to cook, sweet and buttery in flavor, endlessly versatile, and just generally makes the world a better place to eat. I roasted it in a blend of olive oil and maple syrup, which turned out to be such a good combination, I ate every little cube off of the third of this pan that’s conveniently cropped from the picture before it made it into the salad.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh SaladNext, kale! Is kale out of style yet? If yes, I’ll still keep rocking it with the same confidence with which I listen to late ‘90s music and quote old episodes Friends. Never quit with a good thing, especially if that thing is a super green sautéed with garlic and a tiny pinch of nutmeg.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Freekeh Salad with Garlic Sauteed KaleNow, the building blocks and extra flavor: sunny cranberries, crunchy toasted walnuts, and Freekeh, a subtly flavored, pleasantly chewy (no mush!), and quick-cooking whole grain. I’m an ardent believer in using whole grains wherever possible, because they are much higher in fiber and protein than their processed counterparts. Translation: whole grains keep you fuller, happier and healthier too. Bob’s Red Mill introduced me to Freekeh, and now I’m hooked on its lovely texture and lightly smoky flavor—it’s the perfect grain to pair with roasted butternut squash.

To tie all of the flavors together, I shook up a maple Dijon dressing. It’s a little bit of fall packed into a jar: classic maple syrup, zippy Dijon mustard, and a touch of orange juice for brightness. Its flavor is marvelous with the squash and kale. Plus, I feel cool and hipster making it in a mason jar.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Maple Dijon VinaigretteFinally, toss and assemble! Lunch, a love story, is served.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Kale, Freekeh, and CranberriesSo now I have just one final question to ask: To Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad or not to Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad?

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with KaleThis is not a real question.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale

A beautiful, healthy, and absolutely delcious fall salad! Butternut squash roasted with maple syrup and olive oil, garlicky sautéed kale, cranberries, walnuts, and Freekeh (a lovely whole grain), all tossed together with a maple Dijon vinaigrette. This cozy dish is perfect for a light lunch or hearty side.

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


For the Butternut Squash

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Kale and Freekeh

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked Bob’s Red Mill Freekeh
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped kale, tough stems removed (about 7 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the Maple Dijon Dressing and Serving

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
  2. Bring 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add Freekeh, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium, then add the kale. Cook and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes. If all of the kale will not fit in your sauté pan, add it slowly as it cooks down. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper and cook 1 additional minute.
  4. Make the dressing: Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, Dijon, salt, and pepper until combined. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue stirring until well incorporated. (Alternatively, you can shake all of the ingredients together in a mason jar.)
  5. Assemble the salad: Stir the Freekeh, butternut squash, cranberries, and walnuts into the skillet with the kale. Pour enough of the dressing to nicely moisten the mixture over the top, toss gently to coat. Transfer to serving plates and drizzle a little more dressing over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Leftover Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.

More hearty salads to enjoy:

I created this post in collaboration with Bob’s Red Mill, for whom I am a brand ambassador. As always, thank you for supporting the brands and companies I love and that make it possible for me to continue to provide quality content to you!

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...


  1. Erin,
    haha love your opening for this one .. and I totally see why too. This roasted butternut squash freekeh salad looks so good!! Beautiful photos! and I love trying new grains. . Sorghum is one of my faves. I’m totally going to look for freekeh the next time I’m at the store. Love this!

  2. This is my kind of meal! And I guess it’s about time I finally try freekeh…

  3. I love salads with a twist. I find changing up the ingredients with the season and adding in interesting ingredients to keep it interesting. This looks delicious!

  4. I’ve never even heard of Freekeh! Now I’d love to give it a try. This dish looks like the perfect lunch on a cold day!

  5. What a gorgeous salad. I have some unused freekeh in my pantry and I need to put it to work.

  6. I don’t care how out of style it goes some day, my love affair with kale is here to stay. And a big thumbs up for using whole grains (bonus points for the fun name!). This salad looks delicious!

  7. So pretty!! And I adore freekeh!!

  8. Bookmarking this recipe immediately! This looks amazing!!!!!

  9. Omg girl this salad looks amazing! I love every component but that dressing is on another level!

  10. I totally would have read that sonnet lol! This salad absolutely sounds fantastic, and since I’m on this huge ‘fall flavor and themed everything’ this salad is calling my name!

  11. This looks amazing Erin! I can never get enough of kale no matter who says it’s out of style and especially with roasted butternut squash – so perfect:) I finally tried freekeh for the first time a few months ago and loved it so can’t wait to make this salad with that glorious maple dressing.

  12. Butternut squash is the best! This salad looks like such a great way to use it!

  13. Ooh love the tip for adding nutmeg to kale, will have to try that out.

  14. Pinned! I agree–this is the perfect fall lunch!

  15. I just love kale, and I sincerely hope it never goes out of style. But if it does, I’m right there with you. I’ll be eating even when it isn’t trendy. PS: This salad looks delicious!

  16. Can’t wait to try it, but I, too, have never heard of Freekah. I tried to find it on iHerb since I live in Ireland and their shipping is only $4.00 but they don’t carry it. Where else can I find it in Europe? Any ideas? Or is there another product that I could use? Thank you!

  17. Let’s all get our freekeh on and – YES PUHLEEEZ I will have seconds of that Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad!!! I adore butternut squash too – this is so so colorful and texture filled!

  18. what an awesome salad! that maple dijon dressing is awesome. i make a similar one every year!

  19. i absolutely looooove a butternut squash salad – at this time of the year it’s so nice to be eating something which feels autumnal and appropriate but also isn’t too heavy! and the combination of butternut and cranberries is something sacred, i swear. great post :)

    the hobbit kitchen x

  20. Maybe I have problems letting go, but no way, kale is not out of style! I haven’t had freekeh before, but am always looking for new healthy lunch options. I’m going to pick some up next time I’m at Whole Foods. I also may just make that maple roasted butternut squash until then…

  21. I’ve never heard of this grain before, going to have too give this a try. If I were to take the salad for lunch, do you think it would be best to keep the dressing separate and mix right before eating?

  22. YUM! I love that it’s totally healthy but sounds super indulgent. Looks amazing.

  23. Ah! This salad! That dressing! I’m in love.

  24. I love everything about this salad! It just screams fall and is so rich in fall colors. Gah! I can’t wait to give it a try.

  25. Freekeh….what a fun word for a food I’ve never had! Roasted butternut squash = SO good. Love this combo!

  26. This does look absolutely delicious!
    Love how you described it, and by the pictures it does indeed deserve a sonnet!!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  27. Oh my gosh…I am in love with this salad and I’m totally making it this week. I’ve never tried Freekah but I’m game!

  28. Roasted butternut squash really is one of the best things ever! I make a similar salad with quinoa, but have never tried freekeh before, I love the name though! i love everything about this salad and see it in my near future :)

  29. Oh my word! I love Kale and this butternut squash addition makes it the perfect meal! Can’t wait to buy the ingredients and make this!!!

  30. You had me at “maple roasted” ! This looks so delicious! Pinning :)

  31. I love this combination! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  32. Love everything about this! The squash, the maple dijon, the kale, the colors! Pinned – so pretty!

  33. i love squash and kale! this is perfect!

  34. Made it! It’s a hit at casa McClure! Even Kieran loved the freekeh! It’s so savory and filling without making you feel too full. Can you find someone to make an app or page to your site where I can type in ingredients I already have and it searches your recipes for one(s) that I can make using what I’ve got?! I’m sure something like that already exists on other sites, but I trust YOUR recipes will taste good :)

    • Natalie this comment totally makes my day, thank you! Kieran’s is the highest level of approval I could ask for :-) To search for other recipes, you can use the search bar on the right towards the top of any of the pages of my blog. Also, if you look towards the bottom of each post, I try to tag it with the main ingredients. Sometimes I miss a few, but that should at least get you started. Thanks so much for trying this and letting me know how it turned out!

  35. Hi Erin,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was so delicious. My husband even went for seconds then put the steak away that he was planning on eating. Let me tell you, a vegetarian dinner does not usually satisfy his appetite, so I am psyched! I’ve already made it twice this week and I am planning on making it again next week. I brought it to Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Thanks again.

  36. I doubled this salad yesterday for Christmas dinner and the entire family enjoyed it. We left out the freekah because we had a rice side dish but the combination is amazing without it! The maple really adds the perfect touch of sweetness and i didn’t even end up using all of the dressing mixture I had made because the flavors were so perfect without adding too much! Thanks for sharing- would recommend to anyone!

    • Hi Julia! I’m so happy that you and your family enjoyed this dish, and I’m honored that it was a party of your Christmas dinner. Thanks so much for taking time to let me know how it turned out, and wishing you a Merry Christmas (belated) and Happy New Year!

  37. So very fabulous!!!!! Yummo!!! This is a keeper…thank you

  38. Fabulous meal! I used what I had on hand (farro for the freekah, white raisins for the cranberrries, and pecans for the walnuts) and it is wonderful. Thank you!

  39. I tried this with our Roasted Rosemary Garlic sea salt amazing ! Thanks

  40. This is my new favorite recipe.  I absolutely love and crave this salad!  Can’t wait to try your other recipes! 

  41. Sunshine Anderson Reply

    Saw this recipe earlier today and fell in love with it before I even cooked it!! All the flavours work so well together, it is going to be my salad if the summer. There is no question, this is a winner..!

  42. I am a little late to the party but super excited to try this dish! I have every ingredient on hand except butternut squash (a big part of the dish;). I do have organic sweet potatoes, is that a substitute you would recommend? Really want to try it soon without going to the store…

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