This warm kale salad is a perfect healthy side dish for any meal. It’s a delicious way to get your greens in, especially when you’re not in the mood for a cold salad. Ready in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight win.

Speckled bowl of warm kale salad with gold serving spoons and ingredients surrounding

When it’s chilly out, I crave warm and comforting food – so that usually doesn’t include salads! But give me a warm salad, and I am all in. As a Registered Dietitian, I love figuring out new and creative ways to enjoy different vegetables, especially the lesser loved ones. Kale is certainly a polarizing vegetable, but when prepared properly (such as these kale salad recipes), it can be delicious!

This warm kale salad makes lacinato kale soft, tender, and flavorful. Kale is lightly sauteed with garlic is paired with sweet roasted delicata squash, avocado, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, and parmesan cheese. It’s a perfect healthy side dish that might become your new favorite kale recipe!

This recipe is vegetarian, nut free, gluten free, and soy free.

Warm kale salad ingredients

Everything you need to make this warm salad:

  • Lacinato kale
  • Garlic
  • Delicata squash
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Avocado
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Shallot
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredient and dietary restriction substitution suggestions

  • Make it vegan. Use vegan parmesan cheese or just eliminate the cheese. Use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing.
  • Use cubed butternut squash instead of delicata squash if it is not available.
  • Use another type of kale. I used lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or tuscan kale), but you can use curly kale or red Russian kale too.
Speckled bowl of warm kale salad with gold serving spoons and ingredients surrounding

Step by step instructions

Start by cutting delicata squash into half moon shapes and roasting in the oven until fork tender.

While the squash cooks, remove kale leaves from the tough stems using a sharp knife. Break the kale into bite size pieces with your hands and put them into a mixing bowl.

Use your hands to massage the kale until it is just beginning to soften.

Prepare the dressing by mixing lemon juice, olive oil, shallot, honey, and a pinch of salt in a jar.

Sauté the kale with some garlic in a sauté pan for just a minute or two. You want the kale to be soft and bright green, but not completely limp and wilted.

Transfer kale to serving bowl and top with roasted delicata squash, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, avocado slices, and parmesan cheese.

Pour the dressing over everything and toss together. Serve while still warm.

How to massage kale

Massaging kale helps soften kale for a salad, which gives it a more appealing texture to eat. Put pieces of kale in a mixing bowl. To massage the kale, rub the leaves between your fingers until you feel them just begin to soften. You can then move along with your kale recipe.

In this recipe, the kale will soften even more when cooked, but massaging it first helps give it the perfect tender texture that still has a nice bite.

hands tossing a bowl of warm kale salad with gold serving spoons, surrounded by bowls of seeds and pomegranate seeds

Storing leftovers

This warm kale salad will keep in the fridge for up to three days when fully prepared. Store in an airtight container, and reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy again.

You could also enjoy this salad cold as leftovers.

Serving suggestions

You’ll love this warm kale salad as a side dish for any dinner recipe! Try it paired with a comforting soup, or make it a more well-rounded meal with your favorite protein such as salmon, shrimp, or tofu.

Kale nutrition benefits

Kale is certainly a nutrition powerhouse. One cup of cooked kale provides tons of nutrition, including:

  • 5.7 grams of fiber (20 percent of your daily needs)
  • 4.1 grams of plant-based protein
  • 354 mg calcium (27 percent of your daily needs)
  • 2.2 mg iron (12 percent of your daily needs)
  • 485 mg potassium (10 percent of your daily needs)
  • 318.5 mcg Vitamin A (35 percent of your daily needs)
  • 65.00 mcg folate (16 percent of your daily needs)
  • 91.1 mg Vitamin C (101 percent of your daily needs)
  • 543.5 mcg Vitamin K (453 percent of your daily needs)

In addition, kale is also a source of B Vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. Needless to say, it is absolutely filled with nutrients! You’ll also find plenty of antioxidants in kale, which help fight inflammation, prevent certain diseases, and keep our cells healthy.

Speckled bowl of warm kale salad with gold serving spoons and ingredients surrounding

Pomegranate nutrition benefits

Pomegranate is a super healthy, antioxidant-rich food to include in your diet. One cup of pomegranate seeds, or arils, provides:

  • 7 grams of dietary fiber (25 percent of your daily needs)
  • 2.9 grams of plant-based protein
  • 66.50 mcg folate (17 percent of your daily needs)
  • 17.8 mg Vitamin C (20 percent of your daily needs)
  • 28.7 mcg Vitamin K (24 percent of your daily needs)

Pomegranate is also a source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and B Vitamins. In addition to micronutrients, pomegranates contain different types of plant compounds, which have potent antioxidant properties.

Pepitas nutrition benefits

Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are highly nutritious seeds you can include in your diet. Notably, a serving of pepitas (about one fourth cup) provides:

  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 10 grams of plant-based protein
  • 5.9 mg iron (33 percent of your daily needs)

Pepitas are also a good or excellent source of Vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and copper. They provide healthy fats in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Let me know if you love this recipe 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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Speckled bowl of warm kale salad with gold serving spoons and ingredients surrounding

Warm Kale Salad with Delicata Squash

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: salads
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This warm kale salad is a perfect healthy side dish for any meal. It’s a delicious way to get your greens in, especially when you’re not in the mood for a cold salad. Ready in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight win.


Ingredients

Scale

Warm Kale Salad

  • 1 delicata squash, cut into 1/4th inch thick half moons and seeds discarded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, removed from stems and torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tbsp pepitas
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Lemon dressing

  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees  F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss delicata squash slices in 1 tbsp olive oil and a generous shake of salt and pepper. Arrange on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Roast delicata squash for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until soft and fork tender.
  4. Meanwhile, massage the kale for just a minute or so until it begins to soften.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook garlic for 30 seconds, then add the kale.
  6. Cook kale for 1-2 minutes, until it just begins to wilt and is bright green in color.
  7. Prepare the dressing byt adding all dressing ingredients to a small jar and shaking it up.
  8. Transfer the kale to serving bowl, and top with roasted delicata squash, avocado slices, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, and parmesan cheese.
  9. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Enjoy warm!

Notes

Ingredient and dietary restriction substitution suggestions

  • Make it vegan. Use vegan parmesan cheese or just eliminate the cheese. Use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing.
  • Use cubed butternut squash instead of delicata squash if it is not available.
  • Use another type of kale. I used lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or tuscan kale), but you can use curly kale or red Russian kale too.

Storing leftovers

This warm kale salad will keep in the fridge for up to three days when fully prepared. Store in an airtight container, and reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy again.

You could also enjoy this salad cold as leftovers.

Keywords: warm kale salad, vegetarian kale salad, kale salad recipe