Honey, garlic, and seasoned salt make this kale and butternut squash salad extra flavorful. I toasted the brown rice to give this warm salad a nutty flavor and added burst of fresh pomegranate arils.
The ultimate fall side dish has arrived!
This butternut squash and kale recipe can be served as a warm salad or festive side dish to a holiday meal.
The beauty is it's vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and super flavorful. So it will make every one of your guests happy.
Make this for a healthy dinner salad during squash season, or make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a great dish to take to a holiday potluck.
Quick-click table of contents:
Stovetop butternut squash and kale recipe
I cook my butternut squash in a skillet, so there's no need to use the oven to roast it.
More stovetop side dishes:
- Wine Glazed Pearl Onions with Thyme
- Mashed Potatoes with Flavorful Mix-Ins
- Glazed Carrots with Brown Sugar
- Ten-minute Green Beans with Artichokes
Warm kale and butternut squash salad
If you're serving this recipe as a salad, I prefer it to be served as a warm salad.
Similar to a brown rice grain bowl, you'll toss all the warm ingredients together and top it of with crisp and juicy pomegranates.
Since the rice plays an important role in this salad, adding texture and flavor, I toasted it to create a rich nutty taste. That way I don't need to add any nuts and can load up on nuts in other dishes.
The beauty of a warm salad with kale is that you can really serve it warm or at room temperature. Kale's sturdy texture is perfect for this.
Most warm salads must be eaten quickly before the greens get super wilted and soggy. Not this one!
Kale and butternut squash FAQs
It depends on the method of cooking. Blanching kale in boiling salted water takes about 5 minutes. If you are sautéing kale in a skillet it will take 3 to 8 minutes to become tender, depending on the heat.
Roasting kale in the oven takes 15 to 20 minutes at 375ºF.
Toasting brown rice doesn't change the cooking time significantly. The bran on the outside is what toasts and this creates flavor, but the entire rice kernel still needs to be cooked through. This takes about 40 minutes for brown rice.
Toasting white rice will reduce the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.
Kale is a hearty green with a medium flavor. It pairs well with sweet and robust flavors and vegetables.
Kale goes well with:
• bell peppers
• dried fruit
• root vegetables like beets and carrots
Can I make butternut squash with cranberries instead of pomegranates?
You can make this kale and butternut squash with cranberries as a sweet and tangy swap for pomegranates.
Use the same amount of sweetened, dried cranberries. This means you can make this warm salad even if you can't find fresh pomegranate arils, or don't want to take the time to peel a pomegranate.
The flavor is so similar. Other dried fruits would also work: try chopped apricots, currents or golden raisins.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Rice is gluten-free, so this side dish salad is gluten-free.
If you choose to swap another grain for the brown rice you will need to check whether it is gluten-free or not.
What to serve with kale and butternut squash salad:
- Holiday Prime Rib with Horseradish
- Roast Turkey with Gravy
- Classic Sunday Pot Roast
- Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork
- Roast Honey Glazed Ham
- Tomato and Eggplant Soup
Skillet Kale and Butternut Squash Salad with Brown Rice
Toasted Brown Rice
- ¾ cups brown rice not short grain
- 1¼ cups water (SEE NOTE BELOW)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Kale and Butternut Squash
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into ½-inch pieces (3 cups diced squash is 1 lb)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¾ teaspoon Lowry's Seasoned Salt
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 10-oz bag chopped kale
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup pomegranate arils plus more for garnish
For the Rice
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, toast the dry brown rice. Stir frequently, until the rice is hot, fragrant and some pieces will be toasted with darker brown spots, about 2 minutes.
- Immediately add water, reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan. Simmer rice until tender and liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Set aside.
For the kale and squash
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add butternut squash, garlic and seasoned salt. Cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Uncover and add honey. Remove from pan, transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale, and black pepper. Cook until kale is just wilted and softening, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and kale to butternut squash and stir to combine.
- Stir in ½ of the pomegranate arils and garnish with the remaining. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tools I used for this recipe:
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Recipe by Tara Teaspoon. Photos by Darianne Edwards.