Kale, butternut squash, and farro salad. Yep, it’s health food. And yep, it may just change the minds of those reluctant to eat “hippie” food like vegetables and whole grains.
This kale, butternut squash, and kale salad may conjure notions of autumn but it’s actually really quite lovely all year long. Our local supermarket sells a bag of mixed squash and sweet potato slices, which makes life very easy; this is the only precut vegetable we would buy.–Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi
Kale, Butternut Squash, and Farro Salad
- 1 cup uncooked farro* (or, for gluten-free version, use brown rice, red rice, or quinoa)
- 3/4 pound butternut squash and/or sweet potato peeled and cut into thin wedges, approximately 1/2 inch (12 mm) at their widest
- 2 medium (16 oz total) red onions peeled, each cut into 8 wedges
- 3 garlic cloves unpeeled, and lightly smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the kale
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful baby kale or large kale leaves shredded or torn into pieces, or baby spinach leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the squash and/or sweet potato, onions, and garlic on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. (Every oven is different, so take a look at 25 minutes and roast until they are at your preferred level of crispiness!)
- Remove the pan from the oven and scrape everything on it into the bowl containing the grains. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and mix them into the salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
- If using kale, massage it with your hands for a couple of minutes with a little oil and salt until it softens and brightens in color. Stir the kale or spinach into the salad. Serve the salad right away while it’s still slightly warm.
*What is farro?An ancient grain with a nutty flavor and chewy texture, farro is used a lot in grain bowls and salads. While farro isn’t gluten-free, it does have a lot of nutrition going for it. It has the same amount of protein as quinoa, and nearly double the amount of protein or white and brown rice. It also has more fiber than the other three, as well.
Can I make farro salad gluten-free?If you need something gluten-free, you can sub in quinoa, any color of rice (brown, red, or white), or buckwheat.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Healthy, hearty, and versatile. What’s not to love about this butternut squash and farro salad? I found the combination of sweet potatoes and butternut squash to work beautifully together to create a perfect side dish or go-to lunch to pack for work. I served it alongside grilled pork chops and then added ricotta salata to it the next day for my lunch box.
The recipe is easy to follow and quick to make. I cooked the veggies for 25 minutes and found that some were cooked more than others, but I liked the mix in the salad. I used baby kale and brown rice. I think a squeeze of lemon juice would be nice in this salad for a bit of brightness.
This butternut squash and farro salad is a super easy and nutritious weeknight dinner. I came home with pre-cut butternut squash and triple-washed baby kale greens and immediately put together the veggies to go in the oven and started cooking the quinoa. The dinner practically made itself while I put away the rest of the groceries and freshened up for dinner.
I love having this kind of “base” recipe under my belt because it gives me the freedom to tweak it or add what I happen to have on hand. The easiest way to create a variation is to toss the squash and onions with whatever herbs and spices you’re in the mood for along with the oil. (I’d love to try it with baharat spice mix from the Baharat Roast Chicken recipe or the ras el hanout from the Moroccan Lentil Soup recipe.
Rubbing the kale with oil and salt wilted the leaves nicely and the salad as a whole had a more cohesive and better mouthfeel. Also, I recommend mashing the roasted garlic cloves into a paste before stirring the salad so that the garlic flavor gets dispersed evenly.
I love a hearty salad and I am always looking for new recipes to try. Loved the sweet flavors of the roasted squash, fresh baby kale, and flavorful farro salad.
Originally published June 24, 2017