Make-Ahead Roasted Squash and Kale Salad With Spiced Nuts, Cranberries, and Maple Vinaigrette Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • Roasted vegetables are tender but don't turn soggy as they sit overnight in the fridge, making them ideal for a make-ahead salad.
  • Roasting kale helps it develop a sweet, nutty flavor.

This salad combines sweet roasted butternut squash with roasted kale in a vinaigrette flavored with maple syrup and sherry vinegar, along with some spiced pecans for crunch and dried cranberries for a nice chewy texture. It's a delightful salad when it's made fresh, but the flavors and textures actually get even better as it sits in the fridge overnight.

Recipe Facts



Active: 45 mins
Total: 105 mins
Serves: 6 servings

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  • 2 1/2 pounds (1 kg, about 1 large or 2 medium) butternut squashpeeled, seeded, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large bunch (about 8 ounces; 250g) lacinato or curly kale

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Pinch ground cloves

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces; 250g) pecans

  • 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons; 20g)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon (10g) whole grain mustard

  • 1 tablespoon (15mlsherry vinegar

  • 1 cup (about 6 ounces; 200g) dried cranberries or cherries


  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash pieces with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until squash is tender throughout and well browned around the edges, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from foil. Carefully remove squash from foil using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, pick leaves off of kale stems into a large bowl and roughly tear with hands; discard stems. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage until well-coated in oil. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until wilted and crisp in some spots, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to bowl with squash.

  3. Combine cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add nuts and 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 ml), season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then add to bowl with squash and kale.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Add cranberries to bowl with squash, kale, and nuts. Toss with half of dressing, taste, and add more dressing as desired. The dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature or briefly microwave until warm before serving.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
664 Calories
49g Fat
61g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 664
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 49g 63%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 363mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 13g 45%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 44mg 221%
Calcium 147mg 11%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 817mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)