If Shakespeare were a cookbook author, Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad would have been his masterwork. This recipe is head-over-heels, makes you act like a fool, write a sonnet about it, autumn romance.
I realize I often blab on about my love for certain foods (like this, Italian Farro Salad), 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 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
(It pairs especially well with any of these Healthy Thanksgiving Sides).
5 Star Review
“This is my new favorite recipe. I absolutely love and crave this salad!”— Lauren —
Our salad sonnet begins with an ingredient I anticipate every fall (and might love even more than Sautéed Brussels Sprouts): 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.
When combined with tender freekeh, sweet cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and superfood kale, it’s an irresistible grain-based salad (like this Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing) that only gets MORE delicious with a drizzle of homemade maple Dijon vinaigrette.
How to Make Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad
This glorious whole grain salad featuring butternut squash is cozy, hearty, and tastes like retreating inside for comfort on a crisp fall day.
To roast a medley of vegetables, and for more tips and seasoning suggestions, check out my ultimate guide to Oven Roasted Vegetables.
- Butternut Squash. I roasted it in a blend of olive oil and maple syrup, which turned out to be such a good combination. (This Easy Roasted Butternut Squash Parmesan is another awesome combo.)
- Kale. Is kale out of style yet? If yes, I’ll keep rocking it with the same confidence with which I listen to late ‘90s music and quote old episodes Friends.
- Freekeh. I’m an ardent believer in using whole grains wherever possible because they are much higher in fiber and protein than their processed counterparts.
I am a newcomer 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.
Freekeh (or farik) is an ancient grain cereal food made from green durum wheat. It hails from North Africa and is popular in eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
If you prefer, you can use another nutty whole grain, such as farro, in its place.
- Walnuts. Provide crunch to contrast the tender freekeh and squash.
- Cranberries. Add tartness and sweetness.
- 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.
- Roast the squash until tender.
- Cook the freekeh. Set aside.
- Saute the kale until wilted and then stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper.
- Make the dressing. I like to shake all of the ingredients together in a mason jar.
- Assemble the salad by tossing the ingredients together with the dressing. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftover Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.
- To Freeze: Freezing the leftovers of this freekeh salad is definitely possible. Note that the vegetables may lose some texture. For best results, I recommend omitting the dressing and cranberries on portions that will be frozen. Add them once defrosted and ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Since freekeh is derived from wheat, it is not considered gluten free. If you’d like to make a gluten free variation of this vegan freekeh salad, try swapping for cooked quinoa that has been processed in a gluten free certified facility.
This gluten free Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is another alternative.
Yes! If you don’t enjoy butternut squash, or simply don’t have any on hand, sweet potatoes make a great substitution for butternut squash. In this recipe, swap for an equal amount and roast just as you would the squash.
Yes! If you’re unfamiliar with freekeh, it is an ancient grain that’s packed with fiber and protein. In fact, it contains double the amount of protein found in an equal serving of quinoa and TRIPLE the amount found in an equal serving of brown rice.
Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad
For the Butternut Squash:
- 1 butternut squash (1 1/2-pound) 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 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
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan, drizzle olive oil and maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
- 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.
- 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.
- Next, 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.)
- Finally, 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.
- TO STORE: Leftover Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.
- TO FREEZE: Freezing the leftovers of this freekeh salad is definitely possible. Note that the vegetables may lose some texture. For best results, I recommend omitting the dressing and cranberries on portions that will be frozen. Add them once defrosted and ready to serve.
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