This hearty & delicious massaged kale salad is packed with nutritious foods including beets, farro, delicata squash, and pecans. Using pre-cooked beets allows you to prepare this recipe in under one hour. It’s perfect for a healthy lunch or side dish with dinner!

kale and beet salad with delicata squash in a speckled bowl on a light grey backdrop, with ingredients surrounding the bowl

As a Registered Dietitian, you may not be surprised to hear that I love kale salad recipes. And I’ve got plenty on the blog to choose from – have you tried my dairy free kale caesar salad, kale slaw with apples, or simple kale and romaine salad?

This kale and beet salad with farro and roasted delicata squash is an instant favorite, especially for fall and winter when squash is in season. It’s packed with healthy ingredients quite filling thanks to the addition of whole grain farro. You’re going to love the flavors and textures in this salad!

Because roasting beets takes a long time, I opted to use pre-cooked beets in this recipe. You can find them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store! They taste fresh and delicious and help significantly cut down on prep time to one hour or less.

This recipe makes a big batch and will serve 3-4 as an entree salad or 6-8 as a side dish.

Step-by-step video

Ingredients in kale salad with beets

Here is everything you need to make this recipe:

Ingredient substitution suggestions

  • Make it vegan: eliminate the feta cheese and use maple syrup in place of honey.
  • Make it gluten free: Use quinoa or wild rice instead of farro for a gluten free farro substitute.
  • Make it nut free: Use pumpkin seeds (pepitas) instead of toasted pecans.
  • Use toasted almonds, walnuts, or pistachios instead of toasted pecans.
  • If you can’t find delicata squash, roast cubes of butternut squash instead.

Kitchen tools needed

For this recipe, you need a good chef’s knife, a cutting board, a big mixing or salad bowl for massaging the kale and mixing the salad, and a saucepan for cooking the farro.

kale salad with beets and delicata squash ingredients measured out on a light grey backdrop

How to make kale salad with beets

  1. Cook farro on the stovetop according to package instructions. See this post for more detailed instructions on how to cook farro. Once cooked, transfer the farro to a clean baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer. Pop the baking sheet in the fridge so it can cool quickly for the salad.
  2. Prep delicata squash by cutting it in half the long way and scooping out the seeds. Slice into half moons, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cinnamon, and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. The skin on delicata squash is thin and totally edible, so you don’t have to peel it.
  3. Prepare kale by removing the stems, washing and drying the leaves.
  4. Massage the kale in a large salad bowl to soften it for the salad.
  5. Cut pre-cooked beets into cubes, toast the pecans, and chop them up.
  6. To the salad bowl with the kale, add the cooled farro, roasted delicata squash, chopped beets, crumbled feta cheese, and toasted chopped pecans.
  7. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper to make the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it all up to combine.

How to massage kale

Wondering how to soften kale for a salad? Raw kale is tough and chewy, but massaging kale makes it more tender and softer – perfect for eating raw in a salad!

I highly recommend you check out this post on how to prepare and massage kale. But here are the basics on how to massage kale:

  • Remove kale leaves from the stems and discard of the stems. Wash and dry the kale.
  • Chop kale leaves into bite size pieces, or use your hands to tear the leaves into pieces.
  • Put kale leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Use your hands to rub the kale leaves together in a massaging motion.
  • Continue for about a minute, until kale is noticeably softer and darker green.

What to serve with kale and beet salad

Pair this salad with a piece of salmon, a few hard boiled eggs, or baked tofu to make it a well-balanced meal with carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.

Storage

This recipe keeps well as leftovers, because kale doesn’t get soggy after you add salad dressing. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

kale and beet salad with delicata squash in a speckled bowl on a light grey backdrop, with ingredients surrounding the bowl

Kale nutrition & health benefits

Kale is incredibly nutrient-dense! This means it contains a lot of nutrients in very little calories. One cup of chopped raw kale provides:

  • 2.8 grams of dietary fiber (10% of your daily needs)
  • 2 grams of plant-based protein
  • 170 mg calcium (13% of your daily needs)
  • 1.1 mg iron (6% of your daily needs)
  • 161.47 mcg Vitamin A (18% of your daily needs)
  • 62.6 mg Vitamin C (134% of your daily needs)
  • 261.3 mcg Vitamin K (218% of your daily needs)
  • 0.616 mg manganese (27% of your daily needs)

In addition to vitamins and minerals, kale provides other beneficial compounds including antioxidants and glucosinolates. These compounds help keep us healthy by fighting off inflammation, promoting heart health, and reducing risk of certain diseases.

Beets nutrition & health benefits

Beets are highly nutritious! They are loaded with antioxidants, which fight inflammation and keep our cells healthy. In addition, beets contain a compound called dietary nitrates. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which can have blood pressure lowering effects. Nitrates may also help improve athletic performance.

One cup of beets provides:

  • 3.8 grams of dietary fiber (14% of your daily needs)
  • 2.2 grams of plant-based protein
  • 148.24 mcg folate (37% of your daily needs)
  • 6.7 mg Vitamin C (7% of your daily needs)
  • 0.447 mg manganese (19% of your daily needs)
  • 442 mg potassium (9% of your daily needs)

Farro nutrition & health benefits

Farro is a nutrient-dense whole grain. One fourth cup of dry farro provides 6 grams of plant-based protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 15 percent of your daily magnesium and zinc needs, 4 percent of your daily iron needs, and 20 percent of your daily niacin needs.

Farro is higher in soluble fiber than other whole grains. This type of fiber has heart health benefits. Consuming 5-10 grams of soluble fiber per day can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Is farro gluten free? No, farro is not a gluten free grain, since it is a part of the wheat family. However, some people with gluten intolerance can tolerate moderate amounts of farro as it has less gluten in it than regular wheat! If you have Celiac disease, you should not eat any farro or gluten containing products.

Let me know if you love these recipes by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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kale and beet salad with delicata squash in a speckled bowl on a light grey backdrop, with ingredients surrounding the bowl

Kale Salad with Beets, Farro, and Delicata Squash

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6
  • Category: salads
  • Method: Oven, Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This hearty & delicious massaged kale salad is packed with nutritious foods including beets, farro, delicata squash, and pecans. Using pre-cooked beets allows you to prepare this recipe in under one hour. It’s perfect for a healthy lunch or side dish with dinner!


Ingredients

Scale

Salad

  • 3/4 cup dry farro
  • 2 lb delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups curly kale
  • 1 package pre-cooked beets (about 1 1/2 cups), diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Balsamic Dressing

  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cook farro on the stovetop according to package instructions. Transfer cooked farro to a clean baking sheet and spread it out in a thin layer. Put the baking sheet in the fridge to quickly cool down the farro for the salad.
  3. Toss delicata squash with half the olive oil, a generous shake of salt and pepper, and cinnamon. Spread it out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until fork tender.
  4. Prepare the kale by removing the stems, washing and drying the leaves, and chopping the leaves into bite size pieces. 
  5. In a large salad bowl, massage the kale with the remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt until it is softened for the salad.
  6. Add the cooked and cooled farro, roasted delicata squash, beets, toasted pecans, and feta cheese to the salad bowl.
  7. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, honey, Dijon, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl until cohesive.
  8. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix everything up well.

Notes

How to massage kale

I highly recommend you check out this post on how to prepare and massage kale. But here are the basics on how to massage kale:

  • Remove kale leaves from the stems and discard of the stems. Wash and dry the kale.
  • Chop kale leaves into bite size pieces, or use your hands to tear the leaves into pieces.
  • Put kale leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Use your hands to rub the kale leaves together in a massaging motion.
  • Continue for about a minute, until kale is noticeably softer and darker green.

Storage

This recipe keeps well as leftovers, because kale doesn’t get soggy after you add salad dressing. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Keywords: kale and beet salad, kale salad with beets, farro salad, massaged kale salad