Have you ever had Chick-fil-A’s kale salad? Well, it just may be my favorite side item there and one of my favorite salads overall. It’s a delicious mixture of tender kale, sweet roasted butternut squash, crunchy nuts, and a rich Maple Vinaigrette. It’s a great and filling salad for lunch or the perfect side salad to pair with dinner. Since I could honestly eat this salad every day, I decided to develop a copycat Chick-fil-A kale salad recipe so I could enjoy it at home whenever I like.
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Why I love this copycat Chick-fil-A kale Salad
There’s so much to love about this Chick-fil-A kale salad recipe. It’s a simple recipe that’s easy to throw together, yet always manages to impress a crowd. With kale and butternut squash, I also love how this kale crunch salad showcases fresh produce from the late fall to winter season. But this salad can still be enjoyed all year round. I love to pair it with a Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Asiago and Pesto or a bowl of warm 10 Vegetable Soup for a cozy winter lunch. If you’re cooking a poultry dinner like an Oven Roasted Herbed Turkey Breast or Simple Herb Roast Chicken, this kale crunch salad makes a wonderful side.
Everything you need to know about Kale
In the last few years, kale has become incredibly popular with kale merchandise and recipes popping up everywhere. But for good reason! This leafy green is a nutritious superfood that’s versatile and delicious when used properly. Before getting into the details of this Chick-fil-A kale salad, here are a few important things to know about kale:
- Kale is a member of the cabbage food family, so it’s related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and of course, cabbage.
- It’s extremely high in antioxidants. From Vitamin C to beta-carotene, kale is loaded with antioxidants that support heart health and help protect against certain chronic diseases.
- There are several types of kale including red kale, curly kale, baby kale, and lacinato kale.
- Curly kale and red kale are slightly tougher than the other kale types. If you’re planning on using raw curly or red kale, you’ll want to massage the leaves with a bit of neutral oil to break down some of the rough fibers.
- Lacinato kale has two nicknames: Tuscan kale and Dinosaur kale. This type of kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is extremely popular in Tuscan cooking, which is why it’s often referred to as, “Tuscan kale.” Its large, thick, and dark-green leaves make it seem like the type of food a stegosaurus or triceratops would have munched on, giving it the “Dinosaur kale” nickname.
- No matter the type of kale you buy, you’ll always want to store it dry and loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. This will help preserve the kale and prevent it from going limp.
Recipe Ideas with Kale
Kale is a much more versatile ingredient than most people think. Of course, it is a wonderful ingredient for simple salads like this Chick-fil-A kale salad or my Sweet Kale Quinoa Salad with Feta, but it can also be used as a hearty base in recipes like Chicken Schnitzel with Autumn Kale Salad. However, don’t be afraid to get creative with kale and sneak it into soups or stews, roast the leaves for crispy kale chips, or add it to dips, dressings, or sauces like in my Kale Pistachio and Feta Pesto.
What’s the difference between Broccoli and Broccolini?
Preparing the ingredients
The first ingredient you’ll want to prepare is the butternut squash. If you live near Trader Joe’s, then I absolutely recommend picking up their pre-peeled and cut butternut squash or searching for something similar in your favorite grocery store. Either way, you’ll need to ensure that your butternut squash has been peeled, cut, and is ready to roast.
While the butternut squash roasts, you can set to work on the rest of the ingredients. Using one cutting board, I like to begin by removing the kale leaves from the stems and stacking the large leaves together. From here, you can roll the leaves up lengthwise and then cut them into pieces for a quick and efficient method. For the broccolini, you’ll simply need to wash them and then dice them into bite-size pieces. Finally, I like to give the nuts from the Trader Joe’s mix a quick chop as well to break the cashews and almonds into smaller chunks.
Assembling the Kale Crunch Salad
In a large bowl, add the chopped kale, chopped nuts, cranberries, and roasted butternut squash. Next, drizzle the maple vinaigrette over the ingredients and stir until the kale is lightly coated. Allow everything to sit for about 15 minutes before serving your copycat Chick-fil-A kale crunch salad.
Tips and Substitutions
Absolutely! This is the perfect salad recipe for meal prep or big occasions because it can definitely be made ahead of time. However, I would suggest storing the kale salad, nuts, and maple dressing separately until you’re ready to serve. This will help keep the salad as crunchy as possible.
I really recommend sticking with maple syrup for this salad dressing because of the flavor and texture it provides. In a pinch, honey can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio, but keep in mind that the flavor of the dressing will be slightly different.
It can be tricky to get the hang of peeling, cutting, and roasting butternut squash. For all my favorite tips on butternut squash, check out my how-to guide.
Yes! If you have a nut allergy or simply don’t enjoy nuts, then try substituting the nuts in this recipe for seeds. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are great crunchy options that blend well with the rest of the flavors and ingredients.
Use 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon of cashews, and 1 tablespoon of roasted, salted almonds. These can be roughly chopped and added to the salad. Additionally, any nut mix works well with this salad.
Kale Broccolini Roasted Butternut Squash SaladMay 5, 2019
- 3 cup kale, lacinato chopped without stems
- 1/2 cup broccolini tops and some stems
- 1/2 cup Trader Joes “simply almonds, cashews, cranberries” trek mix or 1 tablespoon of each: almonds, dried cranberries, cashews.
- 3/4 cup butternut squash roasted
- 6 tablespoons Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare Kale by removing leaves from the stems and finely chopping. Place in bowl.
- Next, remove stem leaves from Broccolini and coarsely chop tops along with some of the stems. Add to bowl with Kale.
- Chop nuts and cranberries. Add to bowl.
- Add Roasted Butternut Squash to the mixture.
- Add Maple vinaigrette and combine gently. Make sure all the Kale is coated
- Allow Salad to sit or about 15 minutes before serving.
Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.
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