Flavorful winter salad filled with kale, butternut squash, diced apple, pomegranates, pecans, feta and topped with a tangy vinaigrette. It makes the perfect starter to a holiday meal, family party or dinner side!
Favorite Winter Salad
I’m always looking for a salad worthy of my special holiday dinners. It needs to be pretty enough for the table, and spectacular enough to compete with the delicious menu and other holiday sides. And this winter salad is all of the above.
It starts with a kale base and is filled with tender roasted squash, crispy diced apples, pomegranates, chopped pecans and feta cheese with a tangy vinaigrette drizzled on top. It has all of the cozy flavors of winter wrapped up in one big healthy and vibrant salad.
It’s always nice to have at least one nutritious dish for your Thanksgiving menu or Christmas dinner and this winter salad is always our first choice. Even those that aren’t usually salad lovers will be reaching for this delicious side dish!
How to Make the Perfect Winter Salad
- Kale: I love using this as the base of the salad. It’s packed with nutrients and holds up well due to it’s sturdy texture. The key is to chop it into small pieces and massage the kale with olive oil and lemon juice so that it tenderizes.
- Butternut squash: This is a type of winter squash with a vibrant color and flavor. You can cook it in a skillet on the stove, or make roasted butternut squash in the oven.
- Apples: Fresh diced apple adds a nice crunch and sweetness to this winter salad. Any variety will taste delicious, however my favorite type to use is honey crisp.
- Pomegranates: Not only do these add a nice pop of color, but they taste delicious too! They’re fresh, juicy and add a burst of sweetness in every bite.
- Pecans: These give this salad a nice crunch, with a buttery and nutty flavor. I typically use raw pecans that I chop into bite-size pieces.
- Feta cheese: The tangy and salty feta cheese is a great way to balance out the sweet flavors from the apples and pomegranates.
- Vinaigrette: I like to finish mine off with a drizzle of vinaigrette or balsamic dressing for an added boost of flavor.
TIP: Instead of buying the pricey precut squash, learn how to cut butternut squash easily in a matter of minutes. It’s super simple and way less expensive!
- Feel free to swap the pecans for almonds, walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or these sweet candied pecans or mixed candied nuts.
- You can substitute the apple for sliced pears or use dried cranberries instead of pomegranates.
- Roasted sweet potato also tastes delicious in place of butternut squash.
- Instead of feta, use crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese on top. Or omit it all together to make this a vegan salad.
- You can always add in extras like sliced red onions, cornbread croutons, avocado or use a mix of your favorite greens like baby spinach or arugula. Don’t be afraid to make this winter salad your own!
Make it a Meal!
You can easily bulk up the salad to serve as your main dish. Add some shredded or roasted chicken or leftover turkey to add protein. Or keep it vegetarian and add in cooked quinoa and/or chickpeas. The options are endless!
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love:
- Sweet Potato Salad with a Balsamic Glaze
- Fresh Pear Salad with Pomegranates
- Apple Cranberry Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon
- Mandarin Orange Salad with Cranberries
- Easy Fall Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
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- 8 cups kale , washed and chopped into small pieces
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced butternut squash
- ½ small lemon , juiced
- 1 apple , cored and diced
- 1 pomegranate (about 1/2 cup seeds)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans , more as desired
- 1-2 ounces feta cheese , or goat cheese
- vinaigrette , for serving
- In a serving bowl, add the kale. Then add the olive oil and lemon juice. Massage the kale with your hands for a minute or two or until it turns a deep green color.
- Spray a little olive oil onto a small skillet. Add the diced butternut squash and cook over medium heat. Cook a couple of minutes and then flip. Cook until the edges are slightly golden.
- Add the butternut squash to the kale. Then add the diced apples and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the pecans and cheese on top. Drizzle with a vinaigrette if desired. Toss and serve.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
The flavor in this is amazing! So many of my favorites! The dressing was really good too!
So many wonderful fall and winter flavors in this salad. It’s delicious and love all the textures in it too!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Gina :)