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.

A plate of maple roasted butternut squash and freekeh salad with kale and a fork

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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).

Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad on a plate with a fork

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.

Roasted Butternut Squash on a sheet pan

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.


The Ingredients

  • 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.
Kale being wilted in a saute pan with a wooden spoon
  • 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.

About Freekeh

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.
A bowl of freekeh with walnuts and raisins on the side
  • 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.
Homemade Maple Dijon Vinaigrette in a mason jar

The Directions

  1. Roast the squash until tender.
  2. Cook the freekeh. Set aside.
  3. Saute the kale until wilted and then stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper.
  4. Make the dressing. I like to shake all of the ingredients together in a mason jar.
  5. Assemble the salad by tossing the ingredients together with the dressing. ENJOY!
Tossing freekeh, kale, roasted squash, and cranberries together in a saute pan

Storage Tips

  • 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.
Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad on a plate with cranberries and walnuts

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Freekeh Gluten Free?

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.

Can Sweet Potatoes Be Used Instead of Butternut Squash?

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.

Is Freekeh Healthy?

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.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Freekeh Salad with Kale

Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad

5 from 15 votes
This roasted butternut squash freekeh salad is a delicious combination of fall squash, ancient grains, and tender kale. Easy. Healthy. Vegan.

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 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, 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 789kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 18gFat: 50gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 29gPotassium: 1436mgFiber: 10gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 33363IUVitamin C: 201mgCalcium: 351mgIron: 5mg

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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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  1. 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..!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Sunshine! It was one of my absolute favorite recipes all through the fall and winter here, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!5 stars

    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!

  4. 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!5 stars

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

  5. 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

  6. 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. 5 stars

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

  7. 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).5 stars

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.5 stars

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. Everyone loves this!!! Soo good. It’s kind of a lot of work the first time but so good it’s worth it. The dressing makes it!5 stars

  13. This looks wonderful! If I were to be making it for a meatless dinner, is there something you would suggest having with it or do you think it is filling enough on its own?

    1. Hi Denise! A nice piece of salmon would go great on the side of this salad! Here is a list of them for you to look through, https://www.wellplated.com/tag/salmon/ Hope this helps!

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