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Recipe: Kale and Acorn Squash Salad


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Now that fall is upon us, it’s time to start using the bounty of wonderful food this season brings. First up, a kale and acorn squash salad with a delicious bacon-lemon dressing.

Type of dish: Side Dish
Equipment: Baking dish
Servings: Makes 2 to 3 servings.


  • 1 1/2 lb. acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch sized cubes
  • 5 strips uncooked bacon (4 oz), chopped
  • 4 packed cups finely sliced kale – remove stem by sliding it off the leaves, and roll the kale leaves into tight cigar shapes for easier slicing.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crispy walnuts or pecans
  • 3 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TB finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1 TB finely chopped fresh sage leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a baking dish, roast the squash cubes with the chopped bacon for 1 hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you can crank up the heat higher and keep an eye on the roasting process.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the 1 tsp salt to the kale. With your clean hands, strongly massage the salt into the kale for one minute. Add 2 TB of the lemon juice and continue massaging the kale leaves for one additional minute. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
  4. When the squash is cooked and the bacon is crispy, remove the pan and drain (and reserve!) the bacon fat.
  5. Add the bacon fat (you should have a couple tablespoons) to 1 TB lemon juice.
  6. Prepare a bowl to mix your salad. There will be a lot of liquid in the bottom of the kale. Squeeze it out, and leave it behind, to avoid having a soggy salad. Put the drained kale in the salad bowl with the squash, bacon, chives, sage and walnuts.
  7. Dress the salad with the bacon fat and lemon dressing. Season to taste and serve.


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Chris Kresser in kitchen
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Join the conversation

  1. Squash is one of the few vegetables that I enjoyed eating though I like beans but squash is yummier with soup and some lean meat on it. I will let me wife prepare some squash meal today.

  2. I made this recipe as written….WONDERFUL!!!! So much goodness in one dish! The only thing I think I would do differently (based on my results) would be to bake the bacon by itself for about 10 minutes to start rendering the fat so that it gets crisper, then add the acorn squash to it; still keeping the time at 1 hour. My squash was a little soft and the bacon did not get crisp so of course I did not end up with the 2T of bacon fat for the dressing…..But, this is definitely a keeper recipe!!! We love kale! Thanks Chris!

  3. I made this with butternut squash instead of acorn squash. It’s excellent! Definitely will make again.
    How exactly do you go about peeling an acorn squash with its grooved surface? Seems like a tough task, or maybe I’m just uncoordinated! 🙂

    • Sue, I cut my acorn squash in half then sliced it into wedges where the grooves were….it made peeling it so much easier…then I just chopped it into pieces from there. Hope this helps.

  4. Just finished making this – it’s delicious! Thank you! I didn’t have fresh sage so subbed dried. Also didn’t have chives so left those out, although I can see how that would be great.

  5. Hi Chris,
    This sounds delicious! Thank you so much for posting. I really enjoy all your recipes. One quick question: I have hashimoto’s – I’m unclear if it’s ok or not for me to be consuming kale (or other goitrogenic veggies – always cooked) on a frequent basis? I seriously could eat one of them every day.

    Thank you for all you do.

    • I am an acupuncturist and also have Hashimoto’s hypothyroiditis. No need to follow the goitrogenic diet. It is not being born out in the research to be helpful. You do need to be gluten-free however as a step to manage the auto-immune component of this condition. Read the book by Dr Karrazhian entitled Why do I still have thyroid symptoms. If you are in the Denver area contact me at my office for more info.

  6. This looks delicious Chris! I can’t wait to try it. I was just talking about you at IMMH (Integrative Medicine for Mental Health) this weekend. We were talking about how much we like your work! Thanks for everything.