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You’re one bite away from craving this delicious, colorful Kale Salad. With a fresh strawberry vinaigrette and a plethora of complimentary toppings, it’s an ode to the spectacular cuisine of California.

A bowl of kale salad.

Think you don’t like kale? I’m here to change your mind!

I tried a salad just like this one at Nelson’s, a restaurant in the Palos Verdes oceanside resort, Terranea. I took a quick snapshot of the menu, ordered the salad, and plotted my copycat recipe while whale-watching.

Start by massaging the kale in a mouth-watering fresh strawberry vinaigrette. Then, add a bounty of toppings including tender roasted butternut squash, chopped crispy bacon, chewy dried cranberries, tangy crumbled feta cheese, buttery toasted walnuts, and crunchy pomegranate arils.

It’s one spectacular salad that will transport you to the coasts of California, no matter where you live.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Kale Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for kale salad.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Honey: Honey makes for a sweeter vinaigrette than if you used sugar; either works well here. For either sweetener, start with 1 tablespoon (or less) and add more to taste.
  • Butternut squash: Or sweet potato, buttercup squash, acorn squash; essentially any sturdy winter vegetable will roast up beautifully to complement the kale salad. Having tiny, uniform cubes of roasted butternut squash makes this salad better.
  • Kale: More proof that this is a versatile salad recipe: Any kale works here! Choose common curly, Lacinato (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur kale), red or Redbor, or Siberian kale. Just be sure to remove the woody stems before tearing the leafy greens into bite-size pieces.
  • Walnuts: Toasting walnuts brings out their richest, best flavor. Toasted pecans taste terrific, too.
  • Bacon: No need to cook the 4 strips in advance. I explain how to fry the bacon in a skillet in the instructions below as the rest of the kale salad comes together. I suggest cutting the bacon to be the same size as the squash (or even slightly larger) so the bacon doesn’t fry into tiny crumbs and get lost.
  • Feta cheese: Crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese also works.

Step-by-step instructions

To make the strawberry vinaigrette:

  1. In a blender, add strawberries, vinegar, sugar, and dried mustard.
Strawberries and other wet ingredients in a blender before being blended.
  1. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Season to taste with salt (I like /14 teaspoon). You should have about 1 cup dressing (cover and refrigerate until serving time).
Dressing for kale salad.

To make the salad:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For easy cleanup, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add diced butternut squash. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Butternut squash on a baking sheet before being roasted.
  1. Roast until tender and caramelizing on the edges, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Butternut squash on a baking sheet after being roasted.
  1. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon. Cook until tender and starting to crisp along the edges, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Bacon frying in a black skillet.
  1. In a large bowl, add kale and drizzle with the strawberry vinaigrette. Using your hands, toss until evenly coated, massaging the kale as you do.
Someone mixing kale salad in a clear bowl.
  1. Transfer the dressed kale to a serving bowl or divide among individual plates. Sprinkle with butternut squash, walnuts, bacon, cranberries, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds.
A bowl of kale salad.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Kale Salad recipe makes four 2-cup servings, ideal for a light lunch or hearty dinner side dish.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because kale is so salad, it holds up really well under refrigeration.
  • Make ahead: Blend the strawberry vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. You can also roast the butternut squash, cook the bacon, and toast the walnuts in advance. Allow the ingredients to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before assembling the salad.
Kale salad on three plates.

Recipe FAQs

How can I make this Kale Salad more of a meal?

Pile on some protein! My favorite Kale Salad additions include shredded or diced leftover or rotisserie chicken, soft-boiled eggs, shrimp skewers, drained and rinsed canned beans, roasted chickpeas, diced grilled pork tenderloin, or diced steak.

I have a bunch of extra kale after making this Kale Salad. What other kale recipes should I try?

I’m so glad you asked! When I’m on a kale-stemming spree and have piles of the lovely leafy green, I keep the vegetable fun going by whipping up Crispy Kale Chips, White Bean and Kale Soup, Rainbow Thai Salad with Mango, or use it instead of spinach in Sausage Tortellini Soup.

I’m officially hooked on this strawberry vinaigrette. Are there any other salad bases I should drizzle it over?

Absolutely. I often make a double batch to use the other portion over Strawberry Spinach Salad, Easy Garden Salad, or Beet Salad.

Greek Salad

For the ultimate Greek Salad, tone down the raw onion flavor with a simple vinaigrette. Then complete this classic with lots of colorful vegetables and plenty of feta cheese.

30 minutes
View Recipe

More restaurant-style salads

A white bowl filled with kale salad.

Kale Salad

You're one bite away from craving this delicious, colorful Kale Salad. With a fresh strawberry vinaigrette and a plethora of complimentary toppings, it's an ode to the spectacular cuisine of California.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4 servings (2 cups each)
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 299

Ingredients 

For the strawberry vinaigrette:

  • 4 ounces strawberries stemmed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar, or less to taste (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 pound butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (see note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 8 ounces / 8 cups, see note 3)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts toasted if desired (see note 4)
  • 4 slices bacon chopped into small pieces (see note 5)
  • 4 ounces feta cheese (see note 6)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Instructions 

To make the strawberry vinaigrette:

  • In a blender, add strawberries, vinegar, sugar, and dried mustard. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil.
  • Season to taste with salt (I like /14 teaspoon). You should have about 1 cup dressing (cover and refrigerate until serving time).

To make the salad:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For easy cleanup, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, add diced butternut squash. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Roast until tender and caramelizing on the edges, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon. Cook until tender and starting to crisp along the edges, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • In a large bowl, add kale and drizzle with the strawberry vinaigrette. Using your hands, toss until evenly coated, massaging the kale as you do. Transfer the dressed kale to a serving bowl or divide among individual plates.
  • Sprinkle with butternut squash, walnuts, bacon, cranberries, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Honey: Honey makes for a sweeter vinaigrette than if you used sugar; either works well here. For either sweetener, start with 1 tablespoon (or less) and add more to taste.
  2. Butternut squash: Or sweet potato, buttercup squash, acorn squash; essentially any sturdy winter vegetable will roast up beautifully to complement the kale salad. Having tiny, uniform cubes of roasted butternut squash makes this salad better.
  3. Kale: More proof that this is a versatile salad recipe: Any kale works here! Choose common curly, Lacinato (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur kale), red or Redbor, or Siberian kale. Just be sure to remove the woody stems before tearing the leafy greens into bite-size pieces.
  4. Walnuts: Toasting walnuts brings out their richest, best flavor. Toasted pecans taste terrific, too.
  5. Bacon: No need to cook the 4 strips in advance. I explain how to fry the bacon in a skillet in the instructions below as the rest of the kale salad comes together. I suggest cutting the bacon to be the same size as the squash (or even slightly larger) so the bacon doesn’t fry into tiny crumbs and get lost.
  6. Feta cheese: Crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese also works.
  7. Yield: This Kale Salad recipe makes four 2-cup servings, ideal for a light lunch or hearty dinner side dish.
  8. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because kale is so salad, it holds up really well under refrigeration.
  9. Make ahead: Blend the strawberry vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. You can also roast the butternut squash, cook the bacon, and toast the walnuts in advance. Allow the ingredients to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before assembling the salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 299kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 84mgPotassium: 454mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 5462IUVitamin C: 49mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 2mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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