Massaged Kale Salad with Acorn Squash

Serves: About 4-6

Prep Time: 15-minutes; Cook Time: 30 mintues

Total Time: 45-minutes

Recipe developed by: Shannon Costello, RDN, LD with CFW


  • 1 small acorn squash, halved, seeds removed, & sliced into ½-inch thick slices
  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, & patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 cups lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stems removed & roughly chopped
  • ½ small lemon, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (dairy-free, as needed)
  • ¼ cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Place sliced acorn squash on one baking sheet and chickpeas on the other. Drizzle olive oil over both squash and chickpeas. Sprinkle nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Use your hands or a spatula to toss squash and chickpeas in oil and seasonings until well coated. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until squash is fork-tender and chickpeas are mostly crispy. Flip squash pieces and toss chickpeas halfway through cooking time.
  4. In the meantime, place chopped kale in a large mixing or serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and salt. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale by roughly pinching and squeezing the kale pieces for 3-4 minutes or until the kale is tender and turns a vibrant green. Set aside.
  5. To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl or sealable jar. Generously whisk in bowl or shake the jar until ingredients are well-combined. Adjust ingredients according to taste preferences. Add more maple syrup for sweetness; add Dijon mustard for spice; add apple cider vinegar for a more tangy flavor.
  6. Add roasted squash and chickpeas to kale bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad ingredients and gently toss to coat. Reserve some dressing for a final toss, if desired.
  7. Place salad in a serving bowl or on a platter and add toppings of pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, and walnuts. Serve as a starter, side salad, or main course.
  8. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.