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.

A bowl of freekeh with walnuts and raisins on the sideTo 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 and Freekeh Salad with Kale

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Kale

5 from 3 votes
A beautiful, healthy, and absolutely delicious 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.

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

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 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

Notes

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

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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!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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84 Comments

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

  2. 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..!

  3. 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…

    1. Hi Joan! Yes, freezing the leftovers is definitely possible. The vegetables may lose some texture, but it should still be fine! If you happen to be making it and know that you’ll be setting some aside for freezing, I’d suggest leaving out the dressing and cranberries and then adding them after you’ve defrosted the salad and are ready to eat the leftovers. But if everything is already mixed, that should still work too!

  4. I am so happy I found your website! This recipe lived up to my expectations based on your Shakespeare analogy, and I too, would eat this salad every day happily. I made it for thanksgiving and the whole family loved it!

    1. Hooray, Michelle! I’m so glad this recipe was a Thanksgiving hit for you. Thank you so much for reading and trying the recipe…and for leaving this kind review!

  5. This was delicious! An excellent recipe and a big winner the missus :) I blanched my kale in boiling salt water and kinda just mixed through the garlic, pepper, salt, nutmeg, chili after a quick fry, and also didn’t have maple syrup so I used honey. Still really really good. Thanks!

    1. Hi Marc, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this great review!

  6. Hi Erin . 
    Your recipes are just amazing and I can’t wait to make this ! I can’t see the Calorie value though . Do you know what it is please ? 
    Thanking you from Sydney Australia,
    Leanne

    1. Thank you so much, Leanne! I really appreciate it! :) Regarding nutritional info, this is something that I’ve actually started adding to all of my new recipes, effective January 2016 (you’ll see it in the recipe box at the bottom). Unfortunately, it’s pretty time consuming, so I’m unable to go back and add it to past recipes. If you’d like the nutritional info for any of my older recipes (or really any other recipe or food), you can actually calculate it for free at myfitnesspal.com (this is how I calculate the new recipes on my blog). I’m sorry I can’t give you the information for this specific one, but I hope that My Fitness Pal will be a helpful resource for you.

  7. Yum! This is great! The dressing transforms the ingredients. I made three servings with kale and one without for my kale-weary husband. He pronounced it “addictive.”  A wonderful, make-ahead work lunch.5 stars

  8. I made this recipe to take to work for my lunch. It was delicious, great combination of flavours and textures. I couldn’t find Freekeh, so used some couscous that I had in the cupboard. I’d definitely make it again. 

    1. YAY Lara, thank you for taking the time to leave this awesome review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the salad!

  9. Last week I made your freekeh salad. I used spinach instead of kale. It was delicious. I’ve posted the recipe on my blog with a reverence to your site (I hope you don’t mind).

    1. Hi Pieta, I’m so glad you enjoyed this salad! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this review!

  10. I am going to try this recipe for Thanksgiving. Just wondering, can it be made in advance (say, the day before) to be served the following day? Does it taste just as good reheated or is it best to make it the day of? It looks really good but quite a bit of prepping.

    1. Hi Mara, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days, so I think making it the day before would be fine! I hope you enjoy!

  11. Hi Erin, I made this to have with barbecued pork ribs on this hot Australian summer day. The only change I made was using sweet potato instead of butternut pumpkin, knowing it would go well with pork. Everything else was as the recipe was written. Just want to say, we loved it! The dressing was a winner, but everything worked so well together. This is a definite keeper, another grain salad to add to my increasing repertoire . Thanks so much.

  12. I found this recipe when googling recipes using freekeh, I knew I enjoyed it and wanted to try it in different ways. This was right up my alley, I adore kale and my husband has been bugging me to make butternut squash for weeks. This is absolutely perfect! It’s delicious, I love how it is savoury,  but has that subtle sweetness to it. I think some feta would be awesome in this too! Thanks for this recipe!5 stars

  13. Hi – I am so excited about this recipe. I just found out about Freekah and was looking for recipes. I learned about this amazing grain because I get email from Equal Exchange, a fair trade organization that I love. I learned about them because my food co-op sells many of their goods which are sourced from small farmers around the world. This holiday season they had a package called the Palestinian Farmer’s box – I was attracted by the Medjool dates and was curious about the grains- which I don’t eat much of as a rule. The amazing toasted Freekah which I’ve just tried with your recipe is outstanding. I have nothing but warmth for Bob’s Red Mill but I hope you and others who see this check out Equal Exchange on line. It’s a great cause. In addition – I’m always in a panic in the kitchen and your recipe was very logical and worked so well. I did use chard instead of kale (which I will definitely try in the future) and used a little less oil in the dressing and cooking but otherwise followed your directions and it is SO YUMMY! Thanks so much. Hope you don’t mind my promoting Equal Exchange- my only connection with them is my belief in them and their mission. Thanks again!5 stars

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Maryanne! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe!

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