Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs


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squash and kale salad in a white bowl

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with hearty kale as a base has lots of sweet and savory notes with toasted breadcrumbs and sweet roasted squash. A honey-lemon dressing ties it all together.

Well hello, fall.

We went on a quick getaway to Asheville, NC this week.  There are hints of color in the trees and the locally brewed pumpkin beer is out in full force.  (I’m doing my best to sample all of it.)  It’s that kind of fickle early fall weather where you head out for the evening in shorts and need a jacket as soon as the sun sets.

Farmers markets have one foot in both seasons which means that at one we passed through yesterday (see photo at the bottom of the post) there were plump, perfect peaches sitting alongside every sort of squash.  Farmers market heaven, in my opinion.

kale salad in a white bowl

And yesterday was the equinox.  The official shift into a new season.  And therefore the official justification to drink all the pumpkin spice lattes (as. if. I hadn’t had more than my share already) and put squash in everything.

This Butternut Squash and Kale Salad is a bit of an ode to my family in Kansas.  In a matter of weeks my sister requested one and two people asked if I had a go-to recipe.  This, friends, is my new go-to recipe.  A sweet, tart Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette balances (I’d say almost completely hides) the bitterness of the kale. The butternut squash gets all tender and sweet in the oven, as squash does.  And toasted breadcrumbs add a savory crunch throughout the whole thing.

It’s the kind of salad that might even convert those who aren’t sold on this trendy green.

Kale salad in a white bowl

Special thanks to my sister Veronica, official salad-bowl-holder for this post!

More Salad Recipes

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  • Global Chef’s Knife – You only really need one chef’s knife to use for everything and this is my favorite. I’ve had it for 7+ years. It’s incredibly lightweight. If you, like me, are under 5’4″, the 6-inch is a perfect size (if you’re taller, get the 8-inch).
  • Half Sheet Pan – The perfect size pan for everything from roasting vegetables to baking cookies.
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Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs Recipe

This simple, fresh salad with hearty kale as a base has lots of sweet and savory notes with toasted breadcrumbs and sweet roasted squash. A honey-lemon dressing ties it all together.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Half Sheet Pan
  • Skillet
  • Mixing Bowl or Mason Jar


Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad:

  • 2 cups cubed Butternut Squash
  • 1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch Kale, stems discarded, leaves torn into small pieces or thinly sliced with a knife
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Grated zest from 1/2 Lemon

Toasted Breadcrumbs:

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko (or other breadcrumbs)


  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss butternut squash in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet pan, stirring halfway through, until tender, about 25 minutes.
  • While squash is roasting, melt butter in a skillet and add panko. Toast, stirring constantly, until breadcrumbs turn golden brown and fragrant.
  • Combine lemon juice, honey, mustard. Whisk while adding olive oil (or combine all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine). Season with salt and pepper. Pour half the dressing over the shredded kale and rub it into the leaves with your hands (this is the whole “massage the kale” thing which tenderizes the leaves).
  • When squash is tender, toss with kale. Use a peeler or knife to shave strips of parmesan over the salad. Top with toasted panko and lemon zest and serve with the rest of the dressing.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 330mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 9064IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Calories: 317
Keyword: butternut squash, fall recipe, fall salad, kale salad
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Seems that Molly takes after her mom…never met a Farmers Market she didn’t like.  (Though who can pass by something called the “Rad Farmers Market” and not go in?)

Molly Asheville NC 17 months via @inquiringchef

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. This looks like autumn in a bowl! And those buttery toasted panko crumbs? Ooooh yes! But I’m with Molly – I couldn’t pass by a rad farmer’s market either!

  2. So it seems I am a bit behind in following you….you’re back in the states?!? This may be my go-to recipe now. And, I love that FM photo! Good & Plenty!!!