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massaged kale salad topped with delicata squash, apples, pecans, and cranberries

As soon as the weather gets a little chilly, I am ALL about hearty salads filled with fall produce! Think lots of kale, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, etc. I’m excited to share with you guys my first salad of the season – this Massaged Kale Salad With Maple Tahini Dressing. It’s packed with roasted delicata squash, sliced honeycrisp apples, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries. If that doesn’t scream fall, then I don’t know what does hah!

This recipe is completely vegan and gluten-free, but feel free to serve it as a side to your favourite protein. Another thing I love about this salad is that it’s an awesome make-ahead, meal prep option! Massaged kale keeps so well (honestly gets better with time), and does not get soggy like other salads. While not pictured, I tried serving this with some avocado slices, which also tasted delicious. As always, my recipes are meant to inspire you to get creative!

massaged kale salad topped with delicata squash, apples, pecans, and cranberries

What Does It Mean To Massage Kale?

I’ve talked about massaging kale before in this post and also done a demo on my IGTV! But in general, it truly means to take your hands and squeeze the dressing into the kale. Think of it as a similar action to kneading bread – it really works in the dressing and helps to physically break down the tough fibres in kale.

The result? A much softer, tastier, and easier to digest salad. It’s seriously impossible to go back to dry kale salads after you’ve had a massaged one!

How Long Does Massaged Kale Last?

Keep any leftover massaged kale from this salad for about 3 days. I recommend storing it in an airtight container and keeping it in the fridge. Massaged kale is AWESOME because it doesn’t get limp and soggy like most salads. It’s great for meal prep and packing as a work lunch!

shredded kale in a mixing bowl

Vegan Maple Tahini Salad Dressing

This kale salad is massaged with a delicious maple tahini dressing. It’s super creamy and flavourful, but completely plant-based! The only ingredients are tahini, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a little bit of water to thin everything out. To make it, simply add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk with a fork, adding small amounts of water until you reach your desired consistency.

A recommend using half of the dressing to massage the kale, and the other half to drizzle overtop right before serving!

maple tahini salad dressing in white bowl

Tahini Nutrition Facts

Not only is this paste incredibly delicious and creamy, but it’s also jam-packed with nutrition! Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini is a great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids. It’s rich in minerals, such as copper, selenium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and calcium. Tahini is also a source of protein, with just 1 Tbsp providing 3 grams.

All of these facts make tahini an awesome addition to a plant-based diet (and to ANY diet, really).

Delicata Squash Nutrition Facts

One of my favourite winter squash varieties! I love the flavour, the way they look, and the fact that you can eat the skin (no need to peel ’em). Delicata squash is a great source of vitamins like vitamin A, C, B6, folate, and also is a source of minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and calcium.

Winter squashes are known to be great sources of fibre – with one cup of cooked squash providing 6 grams! They are also rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin.

sliced delicata squash in a white bowl

Kale Nutrition Facts

I probably don’t have to tell you that kale is nutritious, but maybe you’re curious just HOW healthy it really is! Just ONE CUP of kale provides 206% of your daily vitamin A needs, 684% of your daily vitamin K, and 134% of your daily vitamin C!! It’s also a source of other micronutrients like manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, and vitamin B6.

In addition, kale is a source of dietary fibre – 1 cup provides 2 grams. Kale is also loaded with antioxidants, which help to prevent cellular damage and are known to provide a multitude of health benefits!

massaged kale salad topped with delicata squash, apples, pecans, and cranberries

Want More Salad Recipe Ideas?

You will love some of my favourites below:

If you gave this Massaged Kale Salad With Maple Tahini Dressing a try, let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below! Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest for more simple, healthy recipe ideas!

Get the Recipe: Massaged Kale Salad With Maple Tahini Dressing

This easy vegan massaged kale salad is made with a maple tahini dressing, roasted delicata squash, apples, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries. Delicious!
massaged kale salad topped with delicata squash, apples, pecans, and cranberries
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  • 2 bunches lacinato kale (how to massage kale for salad)
  • 1 large delicata squash
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to toss squash)
  • Salt (to toss squash)
  • 1 honeycrisp apple, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup raw pecans

Maple Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Approx. 6-8 Tbsp water, to thin (add gradually until desired consistency is reached)
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sliced avocado + extra squeeze of lemon to serve


  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet and have a second baking sheet ready.
  • Slice squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds, then slice into 1/4-1/2-inch "half moons".
  • Toss squash in olive oil and salt, then spread onto lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway. Squash should be slightly browned and fork-tender when done.
  • Meanwhile, chop kale and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • To make the dressing, add all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Gradually add tablespoons of water until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Pour half the dressing over kale, and massage dressing into the kale with your hands. Don't be afraid to really get in there! Let the kale sit and reserve the other half of dressing for serving.
  • Spread pecans onto the second baking sheet, and place in the oven for 6 minutes to toast them. Make sure not to burn!
  • Once all ingredients are ready, add roasted squash, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and apple slices to massaged kale. Serve with extra dressing drizzled overtop. Optional to also add sliced avocado + an extra squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!


*This salad can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. If making ahead, I would advise adding the apples at time of serving to prevent them from going brown.
*Recipe makes 4 servings as a SIDE salad, about 2 servings as a main meal.


As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

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Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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