Table of Contents
  1. What is delicata squash?
  2. What makes a salad seasonal?
  3. Watch how to make this squash kale salad
  4. Fig, Walnut & Squash Kale Salad Recipe

While it may not be something we often think, salads are for all seasons. In its simplest form, the greens, whether kale, spinach, or lettuce, become the bed for each season’s harvest. The coming of fall introduces so many exciting fruits and vegetables to the kitchen.

During the warm months, we have summer squash and in the cooler months, we get winter squash. Winter squash are thicker skinned and meant for curing and storing during the nongrowing season in cold, snowy climates. Butternut is the obvious choice for a winter squash, but there are numerous others. This salad uses delicata squash, which is also a winter squash, and pairs it with fresh figs, candied walnuts, and a simple sweet-tart vinaigrette.

Two hands holding wooden tongs dipping salad out of a wooden bowl with pieces of kale and fig and squash

What is delicata squash?

Delicata squash is a thin-skinned oblong winter squash. The flesh is paler orange than butternut squash, but still sweet. And what’s wonderful is the skin has a beautifully speckled appearance.

In general, the ridges around squash make it hard to peel. A lot of the flesh would have to be removed in order for it to be peeled successfully. Instead, the peel is easy and delicious to eat! Once roasted, the sugars in the squash caramelize and brown, bringing out the true sweetness.

Close up top down view of kale salad topped with figs, squash, candied walnuts, and feta cheese
You can see the ridges on the skin of the delicata squash, which get slightly crispy and sweet.

What makes a salad seasonal?

A lot of times, we think of a salad as the same boring thing: some lettuce, maybe tomato, shredded carrot, and a dressing. It’s more of a summertime side that we drudge through to get to the “real” part of the meal.

A seasonal salad is the meal, with crunchy, hearty, and appetite-filling ingredients that are in season and used when ripe. For this squash kale salad, the squash and figs are the main seasonal components. Figs ripen in early summer on a tree’s prior year’s growth. Then they have a second crop in the fall on the “new wood.”

Using what’s in season creates a salad that doesn’t feel just like a summer side dish! Nope, this is a full fall meal!

Watch how to make this squash kale salad

Top down view of hearty kale salad in wooden bowl topped with figs and squash and feta cheese on white countertop

Fig, Walnut & Squash Kale Salad

4.34 from 15 votes
While salads are not traditionally thought of during the fall, this hearty recipe is the epitome of a fall-time salad! It's packed with figs, squash, candied walnuts, and kale and topped with a delicious vinaigrette.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 2 bunches kale stems removed and chopped
  • 16 oz fresh figs stems removed and quartered
  • 2 oz feta cheese crumbled

For the walnuts

  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil

Instructions
 

For the squash

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Remove the stem and cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and pith. Slice halves into ½-inch pieces and place them on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, rub with hands to coat evenly, and place in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1 ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper.
  • Roast in the preheated oven until golden and beginning to caramelize, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • On a baking sheet, combine the walnuts, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Toss to evenly combine and spread to a single layer.
  • Place in the oven and watch closely until the sugars begin to caramelize and the nuts are toasted, 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir occasionally while cooling to separate the pieces.

For the salad

  • In a large salad bowl or a small jar, combine the shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.
  • Add the kale and toss to coat. Using hands, massage the kale slightly to tenderize. This can be done up to five hours before serving.
  • When ready to serve, add the prepared squash, figs, walnuts, and feta cheese.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 511kcalCarbohydrates: 39.2gProtein: 7.7gFat: 40.1gSaturated Fat: 5.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 16gMonounsaturated Fat: 16.4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 8.4mgSodium: 933.2mgPotassium: 581.7mgFiber: 5.7gSugar: 26.1gVitamin A: 47.3IUVitamin C: 8.8mgCalcium: 150.7mgIron: 2.1mg
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Roasting

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve made it twice now and it does not disappoint. I did switch the fruit to apples simply because I have so, so many to eat from a friend’s tree. It’s a good problem to have, not complaining. This made for such a great salad. I’ll make this time and time again. Best kale salad ever.

  2. 5 stars
    Unbelievably addicting! Everything was perfectly balanced! Sweetness, tang, light and delicious! Already planning making it again! Must try this recipe, it will not dissapoint.

  3. 5 stars
    This salad is simply fantastic!
    Served it for Thanksgiving, yes we celebrate in October here in Canada 🇨🇦
    It was so great, I will be serving it for Christmas as well!
    Thanks! Love your recipes!