Pecan and Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Submitted by:

American Pecan Council | Julia Mueller, Roasted Root

This satisfying and nutritious salad is the perfect balance of flavors. Naturally sweet pecans and butternut squash combine with hearty kale and are topped with a light, citrus orange vinaigrette.


  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or pecan oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 2 heads lacinato kale
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • Orange Vinaigrette:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or pecan oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Maple Toasted Pecans:
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans
  • 2 tsp olive oil or pecan oil
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl, combine chopped butternut squash, olive oil and sea salt. Stir until combined. Spread mixture on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stir, then roast another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden-brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. While the squash is roasting, add the bacon to a small skillet over medium high heat and cook until it reaches desired level of crisp (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Place on a cutting board and allow to cool, then chop into pieces.
  3. Add all of the ingredients for the orange vinaigrette to a small blender. Blend until completely combined (note: you can also whisk the ingredients together in a bowl if you don’t have a small blender).
  4. In a small skillet, add all the ingredients for the maple-toasted pecans. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until toasted and sticky, stirring often. Be sure to monitor the nuts closely, as they burn easily.
  5. Wash, dry, and chop the kale leaves and place them in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and use your hands to massage the juice into the kale leaves for 1 to 2 minutes, until you can feel the kale leaves are more tender.
  6. Add the pomegranate arils, roasted butternut squash, chopped bacon, and maple-toasted pecans. Drizzle in desired amount of orange vinaigrette and toss everything together to combine. Serve alongside your favorite entrée.

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