This Butternut Squash Salad has everything you want in a fall salad recipe — tender roasted squash, nutty farro, kale, creamy goat cheese and pepitas — all dressed in an apple cider vinaigrette. It’s as pretty to look at as it is delicious to eat. 

butternut squash salad on a serving platter with gold serving utensils.
Photo Credits: Christine Siracusa

Every year once the weather cools and the leaves shift from bright green to amber and gold, I host a huge fall gathering to mark the changing of the seasons. It’s a special time for friends, family, and, of course, food!

My guests have come to expect certain recipes and this Butternut Squash Salad is always on the menu. It celebrates all of those great fall and winter vegetables, and tastes great warm, room temperature or cold. 

This fall salad recipe combines roasted butternut squash, nutty farro and kale. I dress it in an apple cider vinaigrette, then finish it with creamy goat cheese and crunchy pepitas. You can roast the squash, cook the farro and make the vinaigrette ahead of time then just assemble everything the day you plan to serve it.

While this kale butternut squash salad is party food at my house, it's a great side dish to bring to a holiday dinner, office party potluck or just make and eat for lunch all week long. 

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Butternut Squash Salad
  2. How to Make this Butternut Squash Salad 
  3. Tips for Working with Kale 
  4. Make this Recipe Your Own
  5. What to Serve with Butternut Squash Salad 
  6. More Amazing Salad Recipes 
  7. Save When You Bundle Our Best-Selling Olive Oil Collection!
  8. Butternut Squash Salad with Farro, Kale, and Creamy Goat Cheese Recipe
ingredients for the butternut squash salad dressing including olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, za'atar, and honey.


Ingredients for Butternut Squash Salad

  • Butternut squash: This sweet-tasting, slightly nutty winter squash with a firm, but creamy texture holds together well in winter and fall salad recipes. 
  • Red onion: This onion becomes sweet when roasted and is perfect for adding another layer of color to this recipe.
  • Garlic cloves: In this recipe I roast the garlic cloves whole along with the other vegetables then add them to the vinaigrette.
  • Herbs and Spices: I use a combination of fresh and dried herbs and spices. Fresh rosemary and dried thyme go beautifully with roasted squash, while Aleppo pepper adds a subtle, earthy spice. For a Mediterranean flair, I add just a touch of Za’atar to the vinaigrette. 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: This staple seasoning duo enhances the natural flavors of food, balances taste, and adds depth.
  • Kale: I'm a big fan of kale, in this roasted butternut squash salad recipe and even when it's the main focus, like with my Kale Salad with Roasted Pistachios and Parmesan. It’s sturdy and holds up well to the other ingredients. If you aren’t a kale fan you can swap it for spinach. 
  • Farro: This whole grain has a nutty taste and chewy texture. It’s high in both fiber and protein. I use it in salads and as a swap for rice in this Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas. It's wonderful for adding body to roasted vegetables and stews as well. You can even eat it for breakfast. If you want to learn more about this ancient grain read our post, What is Farro?
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Whenever olive oil is part of a dressing I like to use something with a little kick to it, so my preferred olive oil for this recipe is our Spanish Hojiblanca.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: A tangy vinegar made from fermented apples, used for vinaigrettes or marinades.
  • Honey: I love our Greek Alfa Honey. It has a rich, deeply complex flavor that I love, but you can use your favorite honey in this recipe too.
  • Goat cheese: This creamy cheese, also called chèvre, made from goat’s milk has a tangy and slightly tart flavor. It brings all of the elements of this fall salad together.
  • Pepitas: These are a type of pumpkin seed more common in Mexican cuisine than Mediterranean, but they go so well with roasted squash recipes and add just a touch of nutty crunch. You can, of course, leave them out or swap them for pecans or hazelnuts in this recipe.
a close up of the butternut squash salad.


How to Make this Butternut Squash Salad 


Grain salads like this one do tend to have a few steps, but many can be done in advance of when you want to serve the salad. It’s so filling and nutritious it can be a light lunch all on its own or fill it out with leftovers. I routinely use leftover whole roasted chicken when I want an extra bit of protein.

  • Get ready. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  • Trim the squash. Place the squash on its side. Trim the top and bottom inch of the squash, then remove the bulbous end from the neck of the squash. Now you should have two pieces each with flat tops and bottoms. two butternut squash halves next to each other, one laying on it's side, and one sitting upright, exposing the inner flesh.
  • Peel the squash: Stand the neck up so it’s vertical. Start at the top and push your knife down toward the bottom cutting a thin strip of peel. Work your way around the squash until all of the hard outer peel has been removed. Now do the same with the bulbous end.
  • Cube the squash. Slice both the bulbous end and the neck in half. Dice the neck into 1-inch cubes, then scoop the seeds out of the bulbous end and discard the seeds along with the peels. (Or save the seeds for roasting. You can roast these just like you would pumpkin seeds.) Proceed to dice the rest of the squash. 4 cut portions of a butternut squash with the flesh sides up.
  • Roast the vegetables. Onto a large sheet pan, add the cubed squash, diced onion, and whole peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle the rosemary, Aleppo pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together making sure it’s coated in the olive oil and spices. Do not add the kale. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. When ready the squash should be easy to pierce with a fork. cubed butternut squash, chopped red onion and cloves of garlic on a baking sheet after roasting.
  • Make the farro. While the vegetables roast, make the farro. Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and set over medium high heat. Place 1 ½ cups of farro in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water then add it to the pan with the water (it doesn’t have to be boiling.) Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and as the water comes to a boil you will see foam start to form on the surface of the water. Skim off as much as you can, reduce the heat to medium. Let the farro simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the farro is tender and chewy. It might not absorb all of the water. That’s OK. Drain and transfer the farro to a large serving bowl. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.cooked farro in a bowl.
  • Wilt the kale. Into the pot where you cooked the farro, add 2 tablespoons of water and all the finely chopped kale. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkle of kosher salt. Turn the stove to medium heat and toss the kale until it warms through, brightens in color and wilts slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and aggressively massage the kale by collecting it in your hands rubbing it between your fingers and thumb. Massaging kale tenderizes it, breaking down the fibers, making it more enjoyable and less bitter to eat. Lift it out of the pot, leaving any liquid behind, and add it to the bowl with the kale. the roasted vegetables, kale and farro in a bowl, prior to mixing together next to small bowls of crumbled goat cheese and pepitas.
  • Remove the vegetables from the oven and make the dressing. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Pick out the 3 garlic cloves. Place them on a cutting board and use a fork to smash them into a paste. Into a small bowl, add the smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, vinegar, honey, za’atar, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk it all together. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. dressing for the butternut squash salad being whisked in a bowl, surrounded by several small, empty ingredient bowls.
  • Assemble the salad. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl with the kale and farro. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss everything together. Add the crumbled goat cheese, and pepitas and serve. 
a bite of butternut squash salad being lifted off of a plate of the salad with a fork.


Tips for Working with Kale 

Kale is a naturally bitter green, and a lot of people have an aversion to it, but if you prepare it properly it softens its sturdy texture and tames some of its bitterness. 

The secret to great-tasting kale is to give it a quick massage. Although the kale in this butternut squash salad recipe is lightly sauteed, I still recommend letting it cool just a bit then rubbing the leaves between your fingers and thumbs to create more tender greens that are enjoyable to eat.

 

Make this Recipe Your Own

This kale and butternut squash salad is so easy to adapt to your own personal tastes and preferences. It's another reason why I love it. I know I can make a delicious salad for any guest coming to my home and easily accommodate their dietary needs.

  • To Make This Salad Vegan: Swap the honey for maple syrup, and skip the goat cheese or use a creamy vegan alternative.
  • Can't find pepitas: Use hazelnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
  • Not a fan of goat cheese? Swap it for feta.
  • Swap Kale for spinach
  • Can't do wheat? Use quinoa instead.

To make


What to Serve with Butternut Squash Salad 

I love, love, love salads that taste great at room temperature and this roasted butternut squash salad is no exception. My husband and I both have big families so having food that can sit out while everyone serves themselves second helpings is a top priority in my house. 

Colorful, flavor-packed sides like this butternut squash salad recipe are part of my list of go-to salads to serve alongside Balsamic Chicken or Pan Seared Pork Chops for weeknight dinners.

If I'm hosting a party I like to pair this recipe with other fall favorites like Baked Pears with Almonds, Honey and Ricotta, Roasted Acorn Squash, and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.

More Amazing Salad Recipes 

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop

Save When You Bundle Our Best-Selling Olive Oil Collection!

Four signature extra virgin olive oils designed for everyday use.

the mediterranean dish everyday extra olive oil bundle including koroneiki, arbequina, nocellara, and hojiblanca extra virgin olive oils.
5 from 10 votes

Butternut Squash Salad with Farro, Kale, and Creamy Goat Cheese

Summer Miller
butternut squash salad on a serving platter with gold serving utensils.
Butternut squash salad is a must-make fall salad recipe with roasted butternut squash, farro, kale, goat cheese, and pepitas.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 40 minutes
Total – 1 hour
Cuisine:
American/Mediterranean
Serves – 8 people, as an appetizer
Course:
Appetizer, Salad

Ingredients
  

For the Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale (ribs discarded, from about 1 large bunch)

For the Farro

  • 1 ½ cups farro
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

To Finish

  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons pepitas

Instructions
 

  • Get ready. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Prepare the squash. Place the squash on its side. Trim the top and bottom inch of the squash, then remove the bulbous end from the neck of the squash. Now you should have two pieces each with flat tops and bottoms. To peel the squash, stand the neck up so it’s vertical. Start at the top and push your knife down toward the bottom cutting a thin strip of peel. Work your way around the squash until all of the hard outer peel has been removed. Now do the same with the bulbous end. Then slice both the bulbous end and the neck in half. Dice the neck into 1-inch cubes, then scoop the seeds out of the bulbous end and discard the seeds along with the peels. (Or save the seeds for roasting.) Proceed to dice the rest of the squash.
  • Roast the vegetables. Onto a large sheet pan, add the cubed squash, diced onion, and whole peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle the rosemary, Aleppo pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together making sure it’s coated in the olive oil and spices. Do not add the kale. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. When ready the squash should be easily pierced with a fork.
  • Make the farro. While the vegetables roast, make the farro. Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and set over medium high heat. Place 1 ½ cups of farro in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water then add it to the pan with the water (it doesn’t have to be boiling.) Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and as the water comes to a boil you will see foam start to form on the surface of the water. Skim off as much as you can, reduce the heat to medium. Let the farro simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the farro is tender and chewy. It might not absorb all of the water. That’s OK. Drain and transfer the farro to a large serving bowl. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.
  • Wilt the kale. Into the pot where you cooked the farro, add 2 tablespoons of water and all the finely chopped kale. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkle of kosher salt. Turn the stove to medium heat and toss the kale until it warms through, brightens in color and wilts slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and aggressively massage the kale by collecting it in your hands rubbing it between your fingers and thumb. Massaging kale tenderizes it, breaking down the fibers, making it more enjoyable to eat. Lift it out of the pot, leaving any liquid behind, and add it to the bowl with the farro.
  • Remove the vegetables from the oven and make the dressing. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Pick out the 3 garlic cloves. Place them on a cutting board and use a fork to smash them into a paste. Into a small bowl, add the smashed garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, honey, vinegar, za’atar, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk it all together. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Assemble the salad. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl with the kale and farro. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss everything together. Add the crumbled goat cheese, and pepitas and serve.

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 259.5kcalCarbohydrates: 23.7gProtein: 5.1gFat: 17.5gSaturated Fat: 3.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 10.9gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 3.3mgSodium: 631.3mgPotassium: 516.4mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 3.8gVitamin A: 12643.5IUVitamin C: 45.3mgCalcium: 135.7mgIron: 2.3mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. My husband and I are new to this Mediterranean diet from are cardiologist so we’re going to give it a try

  2. 5 stars
    This had to be the best salad I have ever made with butternut squash. It’s also the first time I’ve ever tried Farro…. Loved it! I used a combination of feta and goat cheese, because the goat cheese I had just was not crumbly and challenging to work with. It is the perfect combination..

  3. 5 stars
    This is so good! I substituted the farro for brown rice (I couldn't tell you how much because I didn't measure it) and the pepitas for pine nuts because that's what I had on hand. Served it with baked salmon for a delicious, hearty meal! And leftover salad for lunch the next day, which tasted just as delicious as the day before!