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Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken

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A healthy, fall Kale Salad with Chicken made with roasted butternut squash, apples, pecans, and goat cheese with a maple-Dijon vinaigrette.

Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken

Fall Kale Salad with Chicken

This healthy fall chopped salad combines the warm flavors of fall in a light, crisp, and refreshing chopped salad. Rotisserie chicken is an easy protein, and the only cooking is roasting the butternut squash. And since kale is hearty and won’t wilt in the fridge, it’s a great make-ahead meal. More fall salad recipes you will love are this Harvest Kale Salad with Winter Squash, Fall Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, and Turkey Harvest Cobb Salad.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Chicken

Why This Chicken Kale Salad Works

  • Delicious: This kale salad with chicken recipe combines many flavors and textures to produce a salad you’ll crave all autumn. Each component adds something different: tart craisins, crisp apples, creamy goat cheese, hearty kale, sweet butternut squash, juicy chicken, and crunchy pecans.
  • High Protein: The chicken, nuts, butternut, and cheese provide protein, giving each serving 30 grams.
  • Healthy: Besides the significant amount of protein, this salad packs in a variety of vitamins and minerals, thanks to all the fruits and veggies. Plus, it has 8.5 grams of fiber and only 504 calories.
  • Gluten-Free: If you’re gluten-free, don’t miss this salad! All the ingredients naturally don’t have gluten.
  • Make Ahead: Kale salad is perfect for meal prep since it doesn’t get soggy. Make the salad once and enjoy it for lunches over the next few days.
Fall kale Salad ingredients

Harvest Salad Ingredients

  • Butternut Squash: Dice 12 ounces of butternut into half-inch cubes. To save time, buy prechopped squash at the supermarket.
  • Olive Oil to drizzle on the squash before roasting
  • Fall Kale Salad Vinaigrette: Olive oil, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard
  • Kale: You’ll need five cups of shredded kale.
  • Apple: My favorite apples for kale salads are crisp, sweet ones, like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady. Cut the apple right before serving.
  • Pecans: Toast and chop a third cup of pecans.
  • Dried Fruit: Use dried cranberries (craisins) or golden raisins.
  • Chicken: Buy a rotisserie chicken and dice the breast meat. If you have leftover chicken or want to cook your own chicken, go for it.
  • Goat Cheese: Sprinkle two ounces of goat cheese over the salad.

How to Make Kale Salad with Chicken

  1. Butternut Squash: Toss the squash with a teaspoon of oil, half a teaspoon of kosher salt, and an eighth teaspoon of black pepper. Spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes at 400°F.
  2. Massage the Kale: Drizzle the kale with a teaspoon of olive oil and massage it for about three minutes to tenderize it.
  3. Apple Cider Vinaigrette: Whisk the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and remaining salt, and pepper. Gradually pour in olive oil, whisking until incorporated.
  4. Assemble the Salads: Divide the massaged kale into four bowls. Top with a quarter of the roasted butternut, diced apple, pecans, craisins, chicken, and goat cheese. Finish each salad with 1 ½ tablespoons.

Variations

  • Squash: Swap butternut squash for sweet potato or acorn squash.
  • Protein: Switch out the chicken with salmon or deli turkey.
  • Cheese: Substitute goat cheese for feta or blue cheese.
  • Dairy-Free: Omit the goat cheese.
  • Apple: Swap the apple with a pear.
  • Dried Fruit: Sub apricots, dates, or currants.
  • Nuts: Use walnuts or almonds instead of pecans.
  • Vinegar: Switch out apple cider vinegar for balsamic or white vinegar.
  • Sweetener: Replace maple with honey or agave.

Best Type of Kale for Salads

The main two types of kale are lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale) and curly kale. Since lacinato is more tender, it’s better for salads.

Massaging Kale for Salad

Massaging kale for salads is essential! It breaks down the tough leaves, making them much more palatable. Just pour a little oil or dressing over the kale and massage it for a few minutes until it becomes darker green and softer.

Does kale get soggy in dressing?

Kale is a hearty leafy green for salads that doesn’t get soggy when coated in dressing. It actually gets more tender the longer it sits in the dressing, making it perfect for meal prep or serving at parties.

How to Meal Prep Kale Salad

This easy kale salad with chicken will last up to four days if you make the salad the same day you buy the rotisserie chicken. Cooked chicken only lasts four days in the refrigerator, so if your chicken is older, eat the salad sooner. For the freshest salad, store it in airtight containers and wait to add the pecans and apples until right before eating.

Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken

More Kale Salad Recipes You’ll Love

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Fall Kale Salad with Chicken

5 from 19 votes
9
Cals:504
Protein:30
Carbs:38
Fat:27
This high-protein Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken is made with roasted butternut squash, kale, apples, pecans, and goat cheese with a maple-Dijon vinaigrette.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American
Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 salad

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces diced butternut squash, 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 5 cups shredded kale, I like lacinato kale
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium apple, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened craisins or golden raisins
  • 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken breast
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Toss the butternut with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale to help tenderize it, about 3 minutes.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, syrup, and mustard with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. While you whisk, gradually stream in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and whisk until incorporated.
  • Just before serving, cut the apple into roughly ½-inch dice.
  • To assemble the salad, divide the prepped kale among 4 bowls. Top with the roasted butternut, diced apple, pecans, craisins, chicken, and crumbled goat cheese.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over the entire bowl, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each.

Last Step:

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 salad, Calories: 504 kcal, Carbohydrates: 38 g, Protein: 30 g, Fat: 27 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol: 70.5 mg, Sodium: 514.5 mg, Fiber: 8.5 g, Sugar: 17.5 g

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33 comments on “Autumn Kale Salad with Chicken”

  1. Thank you, Gina! This recipe is delicious! Love all the fall flavors. Made as specified. I cut the apples separately and tossed them with lemon juice, to make it easier to assemble ahead of time.

  2. Avatar photo
    Nicole Turrin

    Direct quote from my bf “ restaurant quality salad” and he would eat salads every day if they were this good! Thank you for yet another great recipe

  3. Loved this! I had a pear that needed to be used, so I used it. Also used almonds which I toasted. I will be making this again and again.

  4. I wanted something “fresh” to go with the typical (non-ST) Thanksgiving meal, and this salad fit the bill perfectly! I skipped the meat and cheese to make this a vegan option for my family. It is soooo good! Perfect salad to make the night before, too, with the dressing ready to mix in just before serving. Highly recommend it!

  5. New obsession! I love the fall flavors and the kale and vinaigrette are the perfect base for other seasonal salads – it’s hard for me to find a vinaigrette dressing that I like and this is IT. So good!

  6. My new favorite lunch salad. So good! Best to make in advance so dressing soaks into the Kale…all the flavors are just great. Didn’t alter a thing and it’s fantastic. Just started a clean eating journey and following Gina’s weekly meal plans. This salad is a winner!

  7. Great salad, adaptable and could eat something like this everyday. I had some turkey tenderolin left over and this was calling it’s name. I just had enough for two salads. I skip the dressing, used spinach instead ( as I used up my kale in the skinny taste sweet potato sausage kale soup) Had some gorgonzola that needed to be used so substitued that. Roasted delicata also a good sub for buttenut. Liked this a lot. Thanks for the inspiration

  8. I have a family member who is vegetarian, so I served this omitting the chicken and doubled the squash. Filling for her as a main and a great side dish for the rest of us who had prime rib and mashed potatoes.

  9. I was not sure about the kale as it’s not something we normally eat, but this salad was DELICIOUS! Highly recommend. I will say that as with many salads with multiple ingredients, it is time consuming. Peeling, chopping, roasting the squash, roasting the nuts, etc. Luckily this will feed us 2 lunches. Next time I may double it and use it for meal prep for the week!

    1. Check local grocery stores. We have Trader Joe’s and they always have canned butternut squash available. Such a time saver!

  10. I made this per instructions tonight. It was delicious. The only sub I made was honey instead of maple syrup in the dressing. Great fall salad!

  11. Avatar photo
    Daphne Clifford

    This salad is spectacular, I love that I can enjoy Fall flavors in this recipe!!! It is still warm where I live, so this salad makes a wonderful filling lunch on a sunny October day🍁🎃🍂

  12. I normally do not like kale salads but this dish is DELICIOUS! Perfect combo of salty and sweet. Make sure to massage the kale in olive oil like the directions say. Keeps well in the fridge too. Glad I was brave enough to try it. However I’m not really sure how to measure cups of kale. I used a bunch and a half and removed the stems and chopped it up really well.

  13. Made this tonight but subbed salmon for the protein. Added in some roasted beets. Just fantastic!

  14. I have tried printing this out from the FB post skinny taste website and get a blank sheet. I print out many recipes from the site and this is a first.

  15. DEEELISH! My hubby and I tried this last night and it was quite tasty! We made is as the recipe stated and used the following suggested substitutions: sweet potatoes, chopped dates, and feta cheese. We will be making this again. Also, enjoyed my first time “massaging” kale! Tee Hee!! Thank you!

  16. This looks delish! I’m considering meal prepping in Mason jars. In what order would you recommend stacking the ingredients?

  17. Yum! This reminds me of my favorite bowl at SweetGreen…can’t wait to try to DIY it with your recipe as a base!