Holiday Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing adds a little color to your Thanksgiving feast! It's perfect for Christmas dinner, too. Made with kale, butternut squash, pecans, and pomegranate seeds, this healthy salad is a nice change of pace from the usual heavy holiday food. This easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
Holiday Kale Salad
I love Thanksgiving food! I love stuffing, roasted potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, and lots of gravy. But let’s face it – most Thanksgiving food is brown. You just need to check out the #VeganThanksgiving hashtag on Instagram and you’ll see just how much of drag the meal can look.
This Holiday Kale Salad is full of colors – green kale, orange roasted squash, and bright red pomegranate seeds – so it’s definitely Instagram worthy. With all of those colors come lots of nutrients. Kale, butternut squash, and pomegranate seeds are all loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients – nutrients you might not find in all of that brown food.
The Maple-Mustard Dressing is loaded with nutrients, too, as I’ve used hemp seeds as the base. Hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and they’re a good source of Vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. And this dressing is delicious, if I do say so myself. You may want to make a double batch of it, so you smother the rest of your meal in it.
I’ve added spiced roasted pecans to this salad for a little crunch. They're so you go may want to make extra so you can snack on them later. (I have to stop myself from eating them all whenever I make this salad!)
Not Just for Thanksgiving
While this kale salad is a terrific dish to serve on Thanksgiving, it also makes an excellent light autumn meal. It’s perfect for lunch the day after Thanksgiving, especially if you over-indulged a little too much the day before. With its red and green color theme, it’s a great dish to serve on Christmas, too.
How to Cut Butternut Squash
- First, you need to cut the neck of the squash off of the base. It’s pretty easy to cut straight through, but you need to make sure you have a good, sharp knife.
- Then, you need to peel the neck. Trim the top end off, two.
- Next, carefully cut the squash into slabs, about 1 to 1 ½-inch thick.
- Then cut each slab into cubes.
How to Make Your Holiday Kale Salad
This salad is so easy to make!
- First you toss the cubed butternut squash in oil, salt, and pepper, and you roast it for about 25 to 30 minutes at 400°F. You should flip the pieces about halfway through to make sure they cook evenly.
- Then you lower the oven's heat to 300°. You toss the pecans with oil, salt, garlic powder, and mustard powder, and then roast them for about 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them, because they can burn quickly.
- Next you mix together all of the dressing ingredients until it's smooth and creamy.
- Now you pour half of the dressing over the kale and gently massage it into the kale. Your kale should wilt slightly. Be careful not to over massage it, because it'll seem wilted and mushy.
- Finally, you add the toasted pecans, roasted squash, and pomegranate seeds into the bowl with the kale and drizzle on the rest of the dressing.
How to Customize Your Holiday Kale Salad
This salad is perfect as is, so I wouldn't recommend changing it much. But if there are ingredients you can't eat, you can make simple swaps.
- You can use walnuts in the place of pecans.
- If you're allergic to nuts, you can use pumpkin seeds instead of pecans.
- Any type of squash can be used in the place of butternut. You can use sweet potatoes, too.
- If you're really adverse to kale, you can use romaine.
Holiday Kale Salad with Maple-Mustard Dressing
For the Salad
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 bunch kale stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups)
- ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
For the Dressing
- ½ cup hemp seeds
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- pinch black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, toss the butternut squash together with 1 teaspoon of oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
- Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s tender and has browned around the edges. Flip the pieces at about the halfway point. Remove the baking sheet, and lower the oven to 300°.
- In the same bowl, toss the pecans with the remaining oil, the remaining salt, garlic powder, and mustard powder.
- Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 300° for 8-10 minutes, stirring the nuts at the halfway point. Be sure to keep an eye on them, because they could burn quickly!
- Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and pour on half of the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale until the kale begins to soften. Don’t over-massage it, or it will become too mushy.
- Toss in the pecans, pomegranate seeds, and roasted squash. Drizzle on the remaining dressing.
Originally posted November 8, 2017. Updated November 21, 2021.
More colorful holiday dishes include:
- Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots and Toasted Pistachios
- Garlicky Mashed Butternut Squash
- Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen
- Super Easy Cranberry Sauce
More kale recipes you might enjoy include:
- Potatoes au Gratin with Kale
- Butternut Lasagna with Kale
- Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas
- Creamed Kale