My boyfriend has a “kale face”.

It’s a cross between disgust and horror and he makes it every time I tell him I’m about to feed him something with kale in it.  Which is…approximately daily.

He started making it while we were on vacation this summer when I kept waxing poetic about my favorite leafy green and how I missed it SO.MUCH (no, really, you have no idea – I was inconsolable) and how I was probably going to buy five bunches of it when we got home and just…cuddle with it for a while.  You know…before force feeding it to him for literally a week straight in order to cleanse us from all of the majorly not-Joanne-approved food we ate.  Hence the face.  And now it’s just become…a thing.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, I just really needed to drive home the point that kale and I are pretty much soulmates.  So, even with all of this joking I’ve done about only serving a heart attack on a plate for Thanksgiving, you didn’t really think that was true…right?


I know a lot of people see Thanksgiving as a time to just stuff themselves silly with everything they wouldn’t normally let themselves eat.  But the truth is, that even if I wanted to do that…I couldn’t.  Typically about 3/4 of the food served at this holiday is not vegetarian-friendly, between bacon crumbles, chicken broth, sausage, turkey fat, etc. So my motto is pretty much that if I want to be able to eat it, I just need to make it myself.

There are a ton of people with dietary restrictions out there who are in the same boat.  And not just people who are choosing not to eat a certain subset of food, but those who actually physically cannot without making themselves sick.

Being that today is World Diabetes Day, and since this is a disease that affects SO.MANY. members of our society, whether they have it themselves, have a family member who has it (my grandfather had it!) or spend every waking moment of their day staring at fat cells in a tissue culture dish and trying to find out how insulin convinces them to pull glucose out of the blood and what exactly goes wrong in this process when insulin resistance develops (ME ME ME!)…I thought I’d post a recipe today that was not only diabetic-friendly, but also vegetarian-friendly, and gluten-free!  It really is perfect for the food-restricted Thanksgiving table.

I had a salad similar to this one at a restaurant called Northern Spy this past spring and it really was one of the most revelatory things I’ve ever eaten.  The kale was perfectly dressed in a lemon-parmesan vinaigrette and the winter squash added the just the right amount of sweetness to counterbalance it.  I’ve been meaning to recreate it ever since, and was thrilled to see an extremely similar recipe in last year’s Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit.  This recipe differs from the dish I had only in that in addition to the kale, shredded brussels sprouts are added into the mix, giving the salad a bit more body and texture.  The best thing about this salad is that, since kale and brussels sprouts are much sturdier than lettuce is, you can dress the salad ahead of time and it will only get better as the greens start to absorb the flavors of the vinaigrette.

So if you have a dietary-restricted individual attending your Thanksgiving, I truly think this salad would be the perfect dish to have on the table.  And even if you don’t, but just want to serve at least one thing that is a bit on the lighter side – this is it.

World Diabetes Day Initiative

For more information about World Diabetes Day and for an AWESOME GIVEAWAY of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, head on over to Carolyn’s blog – All Day I Dream About Food.  Carolyn was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her third pregnancy that, even though she is a SERIOUS runner and generally healthy person, turned into type 2 diabetes. Proving that the development of diabetes is not only about health, fitness, and BMI but also about genetics and factors that we can’t control. Carolyn has never let that get her down, though, and she continues to cook absolutely amazing diabetic-friendly food and treats over at her site! It’s definitely an amazing resource for anyone who is afflicted by this disease.

PicMonkey Collage

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Serves 8-10, adapted from Bon Appetit November 2011


  • 1 medium butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan or lacinato kale (1 1/2 lb), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 oz brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated parmiggiano-reggiano


  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Place butternut squash cubes on a parchment-lined roasted pan.  Sprinkle with salt and roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  2. In the meantime, combine the lemon juce, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl.  Stir to blend, set aside to let the flavors meld.
  3. Mix the kale and the brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
  4. Slowly whisk the olive oil into the lemon-juice mixture.  Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the dressing to the kale mixture and massage it into the kale for about 2-3 minutes or until kale has reduced in volume.  Add in the almonds, butternut squash, and cheese.  Toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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87 Responses to Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Butternut Squash…for World Diabetes Day!

  1. daphne says:

    whenever I head to parties, I always appreciate someone bringing a healthy dish. It’s not always fat and treats… I want something nutritious too. This is something that I will attack in a dinner.

  2. Just making my way through all the sites that are participating in Carolyn’s World Diabetes Day awareness campaign & wanted to say hello & thx (I’m a type 2, btw) 🙂

  3. Emma says:

    I LOVE NORTHERN SPY’S KALE SALAD. I clone it at home all the time (though slightly differently than you have here—I dress it in plain lemon and olive oil, then add sunflower seeds, sweet potato, a blanket of cheddar and a soft-boiled egg. Highly recommend). Your version looks fantastic!

  4. Looks delicious, Joanne! Definitely my kind of salad with the kale and Brussels sprouts. I have yet to try the sprouts raw though so I better get cracking! Thankfully I have a while to plan what I want to eat for Christmas. 🙂

  5. Sounds delicious, seriously. I recently tried salad using greens (mustard greens I think) with just lemon juice, salt and chili. Really delicious, yours is the rolls royce version:)

  6. I love all these veggies in this salad! Love the bright greens and the pop of orange from the squash 🙂

  7. mcddanielle says:

    I’ve been waiting for the perfect Turkey Day recipe and I believe this is it. Thanks! I’m running a 10K Turkey Trot, so I’ll definitely have a little room for pie too.

  8. Shannon says:

    What a beautiful looking salad this is! I like kale and I LOVE brussels sprouts. I’m pretty sure that I’d get a similar face from my boyfriend if I tried to feed him this – but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy it anyway!

  9. Amy says:

    “…Thanksgiving as a time to just stuff themselves silly with everything they wouldn’t normally let themselves eat.” Hm. I thought that was the State Fair 😉

  10. Cathleen says:

    This looks perfect! Sadly, I have never tried kale, so I don’t know if I have a kale face yet. But I think it will happen soon!

  11. Ruth Daniels says:

    Even though I am lucky enough to have no dietary restrictions, and even though – GASP… should I dare mention the C word (Carnivore)? I love the sound of this salad. And since the kale, Brussels sprouts and butternut squash are sitting on my counter as I write, this dish is for me!

  12. Danielle says:

    This is my kind of salad – I could eat kale and brussel sprouts all day.

  13. The salad looks amazing! I am on a Brussels Sprouts kick and I love it with buternut squash! I didn’t know today was World Diabetes Day. It’s wonderful that you are posting about it and I agree Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about all the meat dishes. I love vegetarian dishes just as much, matetr in fact I find them more fun to make and flavorful!

  14. I feel so sad every time I go to parties bearing dishes with quinoa and veggies. People don’t touch it… They navigate to the Costco potato salad or the grocery store three layer bean dip. I wanna shake them and scream what is wrong with you? Thank you for all the healthy foods you advocate on this site. Good food tastes good… The trick is, one has to start by trying, right?! I want this on my table every night… Not just for TG dinner.

  15. SallyBR says:

    My husband used to have a kale face, now he takes it as a man! 😉 But he will crumble into pieces if Brussels sprouts are involved.

    I am very fond of kale too, and just made a kale pesto last night. Delicious!

    (when I blog about my pesto, I’ll include a link to your salad)

  16. alicooks3 says:

    kale and brussel sprouts…. here’ my kale and brussell sprout face 🙂 love <3
    we really need to meet!

  17. I just imagined cuddling kale, and my heart immediately warmed up. Magical, Joanne, MAGICAL! Also, great cause to be taking part in! It’s so overlooked.

  18. Big Dude says:

    This looks really good and I really like both cooked kale and brussels sprouts, but served raw, I might have to put my kale face on. 🙂

  19. Kale face, that had me laughing out loud! I still have not tried kale, it is just not available here (small city in the country). The salad looks really good, maybe I could sub spinach 🙂

  20. Pam says:

    My kale face is a happy face! And this recipe makes it even happier!

  21. Shoot. I really thought kale and I were soulmates. It looks like I have some serious competition. This recipe does show how well you know how to love it though. yum!

  22. Beth says:

    This looks delicious, Joanne, and I’d love to try it at Thanksgiving or any time of year. It can be really hard to eat well over the holidays, and this salad would help anyone accomplish that with pleasure.

  23. Beautiful salad, I would LOVE it…it’s packed full of some of my favorite things! However, my kids and hubby would probably be giving me the brussels-sprouts-face, so… ;P

  24. Sippity Sup says:

    I can just see you “Kale Kuddling”. GREG

  25. cindspectus says:

    Oh my goodness, I love everything I’ve ever eaten at Northern Spy, can’t wait to try this recipe. As a vegetarian on Thanksgiving, every year I tell my family not to worry about me, I’ll have plenty to eat with all of the sides (they are nice enough to make stuffing without chicken stock for me). They don’t listen, and I think *they* feel uncomfortable when I don’t have turkey on my plate, so I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing some fake sliced turkey and having a sandwich, just to make them feel better :).

  26. Erica says:

    I am looking for a meatless dish to bring on Thanksgiving! This sounds really good!

  27. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love Brussels Sprouts but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a raw one. What an interesting salad and I think the sweetness of the pumpkin would be perfect with the kale xx

  28. sandra says:

    Cool. I was going to ask you what you have in those Petri dishes and now I know.

  29. Hehe, I hope by NOW, your very intelligent bf has realized that kale is delicious…at least when prepared by his culinarily-talented (yes I made that word up and yes, I’m sure there’s a real word that could be used instead but i can’t figure it out) girlfriend. I love cooked kale, although I’m still working on learning to love it raw. Maybe this recipe will do it for me.

  30. Nelly says:

    I’m Southern by birth but not by heritage (both of my parents are from Ohio), but even so, I am completely ingrained in the Southern tradition of long, slow-cooked greens. Never really got the taste for raw ones – the tougher texture and slight bitterness always get to me. But lately I’ve been liking raw veggies in general more than I did before, and get weird looks from the Mexican grill cooks in my restaurant for munching on raw bell peppers, green beans or mushrooms while prepping. Might be time to try raw leaves, finally.

  31. Geni says:

    This salad looks like the exact addition to our Thanksgiving table that I was looking for! What a great combination of greens with a nice pop of orange from the squash.

  32. Gloria says:

    I think look delicious and you are so funny my dad has diabetes a.nd is hard to my mom care him sigh
    anyway I love this.
    To christmas and others I make special desserts to him.

  33. Hannah says:

    I found myself gazing longingly at the gorgeous kale at Whole Foods yesterday, but walked away because I never manage to use it in a timely manner. Oh, if only I had known about this salad then! Brussel sprouts are quite possibly my favorite vegetable (at least top 10) so I can’t imagine a more delicious combination!

  34. I love that you made something diabetes-friendly that looks so delicious. Green veggie withdrawal is a thing.

  35. Great salad for diabetes awareness. SO many great fall flavors too. I have been living on brussels sprouts and butternut squash!

  36. Gwen says:

    I thought I was the only one who honestly and truly LOVES kale! I mean even before it was trendy and there were kale ‘chips’ 😉
    My husband felt the same way but errr gave up on making faces years ago. Your boyfriend will come around as well. heeheee I love the dressing on this salad!!!

    We all have sad stories about diabetes (especially those of us in health care) My young, super healthy, thin, gorgeous SIL got g.d. at age 27! Luckily she is still doing well.

    Thanks for this thoughtful recipe Joanne

  37. Beautiful bowl of green! Throw in a little orange and it’s the whole package.

  38. Wow, in all my time reading your blog I never realized you are a vegetarian. Guess it just goes to show how little meat I eat myself! This looks divine; I love the colors.

  39. Katie says:

    Oh what a fabulously beautiful salad! I am such a kale and brussesls sprouts fan, but I’ve never thought of providing him. I can’t wait to taste this. What a lucky boyfriend you have!

  40. Kari says:

    I hadn’t realised you were looking at insulin resistance in your research – I wish it was possible to insert brief coffee chats into blog comment exchanges sometimes 🙂 (Although now you might think I’m an odd Australian best left in Australia and far, far away from NYC…)

    This looks delicious and a perfect dish to balance out the heavier Thanksgiving options. I also feel the need to mention that my partner has a kale face too, but his is known to us as a soda water face. It is a mystery to me how fizzy water can incite such horror, but it does. Oh it does. He and your Boy might get on well 😉

  41. Make ahead Thanks Giving dishes are right up my alley since I hate stressing out about food. It’s supposed to be fun afterall. Thank you for this. I love the idea of brussel sprouts and kale in a tasty salad.

  42. Tandy says:

    We don’t get kale here but I am going to add raw Brussels sprouts to my next salad 🙂

  43. What is it with bacon crumbles everywhere at Thanksgiving? That is the quickest way to ruin what could otherwise be such a fabulous veg option. That always bugs me! This is a great dish Joanne!

  44. That Girl says:

    I have a kale face too – but it’s probably very similar to yours.

  45. Laura says:

    So don’t make too much fun of me or be too appalled, but… I thought kale needed to be cooked to eat it?

    Setting that question aside, I have actually been slowing coming around to kale. It started with kheema, but I have discovered I like it in anything with a fried egg, anything with a lot of spices… we have been eating it a lot, and my eldest makes a similar face to your BF. Since I hated cooked greens until about 3 years ago, it is hard for me to judge her much. But I keep serving it!

  46. london bakes says:

    Haha, I think my boyfriend has a ‘kale face’ too.

    This is such a great side dish, love the flavours in it. I can imagine this would be a big eat at my family’s table.

  47. Lynn says:

    It’s a kale kind of morning. I was just at the Chocolate & Zucchini blog and she posted about it, too:

    I might make this and leave out the squash. Looks yummy.

  48. This is a great salad – I like the brussel sprouts in it, too. They are such an under-used vegetable, in my opinion!

  49. I always prefer to have a healthy diet. This must be really matching dish for me. Colour combination tempting me to eat this. Can we add spinach too?

  50. I love the looks of this salad. Yay brussels sprouts!

  51. RecipeGirl says:

    Only you could make kale and brussels sprouts seem like something that people want to eat. Looks fab!

  52. Meghan says:

    This looks incredible. Kale and Brussels are two of my favorite things!

  53. teresa says:

    all i need are brussel sprouts, and this baby is on my table. what a gorgeous salad. i desperately need something like this with the holidays looming.

  54. I just saw this recipe when I was looking up salads on Epicurious the other day. Now I really have to try it.

  55. Shannon says:

    oh man, this sounds AMAZING!!! totally making it. and i think our mutual adoration of all things kale and butternut squash make us soulmates 🙂

  56. Catherine H. says:

    Thanks for participating in this awareness-raising event. My sister has Type I and I myself have to be pretty careful, especially when I’m pregnant, so I’ve been eating low-carb for nearly five years. New recipes are always a good thing! I am by no means vegetarian, but this salad sounds pretty good.

  57. Lisa says:

    Is this a cold dish or served warm?

  58. marie says:

    Ok, this is truly something I could eat multiple times a week, love it.

  59. Eileen says:

    Kale face?? Can you give him some sort of “not getting scurvy” face back? 😛 This salad sounds perfect–yay seasonal greens!

  60. Jenn Kendall says:

    that sounds like a delicious salad! so many yummy things in one bowl!

  61. I used to live like a block away from Northern Spy but never tried this salad! I started hearing about it after I moved. Sounds like the perfect addition to Thanksgiving.

  62. I can’t wait to make this for Thanksgiving! My friend Sara and I are doing a majority of the cooking/baking (if not all of it…) and this year’s goal is to lighten up and have a healthier but still delicious holiday.

    Plus, who doesn’t like kale???

    (I wrote about this recipe here, if you’re curious:

  63. It’s so funny how some vegetables have such a stigma. Why do so many people have issues with Brussels sprouts, for example, but not cabbage. Or will eat spinach but not corn?

  64. It’s so unfortunate that even with a healthy lifestyle, you can still get diabetes! All the best with Carolyn.

    Oh and I think it’s hilarious that you and kale are soulmates! I’m glad you got your kale fixing with this gorgeous salad!

  65. Blond Duck says:

    I feel your pain. I have IBS so during holidays I play, ok, what can I eat that won’t kill me?

  66. Reeni Pisano says:

    I am liking brussels sprouts more and more and am already a kale lover! I think the clincher for me is the butternut squash!

  67. Natalie says:

    bookmarked this–and i plan to make it next weekend to detox from Tgiving 🙂

    can’t wait to see your Dahlia Bakery post tomorrow!

  68. Yikes! I missed it! I do love all the unique ways you use kale, though!

  69. I had to pin this before I even commented! So does the boy really hate kale or is his face just expected to pinch at the sight of it? lol.

  70. What a great post and idea. Its very difficult for lots of people around this time of year. I wish you could bring that salad to my place ….

  71. I was going to make a spinach and pomegranate salad but now you’ve got me thinking I want to try this one. Choices, choices! Maybe I’ll just have to make both. 😉

  72. two of my favorite things in one amazing dish. Fantastic!

  73. Some of my very favorite things all on one plate!! I wish I didn’t still have a pregnancy aversion to kale or I’d whip this right up!

  74. Anonymous says:

    to.die.for. haven’t made butternut squash in a while – but i’m back on it now, thanks to this recipe! so tasty. thank you!

  75. Just made this last night for a Super Bowl party (knowing that healthy options would be few and far between) and while it was definitely a hit, I ended up with a ton left over! I love that this salad keeps well, even after it’s been dressed.

    As much as I love it in its normally prepared form, I ended up adapting the leftover salad into a version of your baked rigatoni: brussel sprout/blue cheese/fig recipe. Tossed a handful of leftover salad with some chopped dried figs into a saute pan to reheat it, mixed it in with some gorgonzola and pasta, then popped it into the oven for a bit. Delicious! And thrifty!

    Thanks a million- love the blog!

  76. […] One year ago…Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Butternut Squash […]

  77. Michele says:

    how far ahead would you recommend dressing this salad? i’d like to make it and them bring it to a dinner a couple of hours away. wondering if it would be ok to dress in advance?

  78. […] Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Butternut Squash from Eats Well with Others […]

  79. Pam says:

    This looks so good, both taste-wise and to the eye. It’s a perfect fall dish, and I’m going to make it as soon as I can find vegetarian parmiggiano-reggiano. Do you have a brand you recommend?

    • joanne says:

      Organic Valley has a great vegetarian parmiggiano-reggiano! I don’t know if you have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s near you, but they also carry vegetarian parmiggiano-reggiano.

  80. Great meal! Everyone loved it. Thanks!

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