Celebrate the Season With This Festive Fall Harvest Salad

Celebrate the Season With This Festive Fall Harvest Salad

This hearty salad delivers all the fall flavors you crave while nourishing you inside out. Enjoy an abundance of seasonal favorites like butternut squash, apple, kale, and pumpkin seeds, drizzled with a creamy turmeric tahini dressing.

Fall Harvest Kale Salad

If you’re looking for a cleanse-approved dish to share at your next gathering, look no further than this fall harvest kale salad. This hearty salad delivers all the fall flavors you crave while nourishing you inside out. Enjoy an abundance of seasonal favorites like butternut squash, apple, kale, and pumpkin seeds, drizzled with a creamy turmeric tahini dressing. This salad makes a filling plant-based dinner—or prep ahead for a healthy, delicious work lunch. 

It’s better with butternut 

With the arrival of fall comes a bounty of winter squash, and butternut squash is one of our favorites. Its sweet, nutty flavor and bevy of nutrients make it the perfect starch for fall.

Butternut squash’s brilliant hue comes from carotenoids. These plant pigments act as potent antioxidants, protecting your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. 

One cup of cooked butternut squash provides a whopping 457% of the Recommended Daily Value of vitamin A and 52% of vitamin C. These nutrients are key to keeping your immune system strong as cold and flu season strikes. 

Leafy greens for the win

As the temperature drops, we often veer away from salads in favor of heavier comfort foods. But to keep our immunity in tip-top shape, it’s important to eat leafy greens as the colder months hit. 

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. It’s also high in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinates, which calm inflammation in the body and support liver detox.

Benefits of quinoa

Quinoa is cleanse-approved, high in fiber, and rich in nutrients like magnesium, manganese, and folate. While this gluten-free pseudo grain may cook up like a grain, it’s technically a seed. 

Quinoa is also protein-packed, offering 8 grams in a one-cup serving. And unlike many other sources of plant protein, quinoa is a complete protein. This means it supplies all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own.

Polyphenol power

This salad features a generous serving of pomegranate seeds, which adds a delicious burst of sweetness to each bite. But these juicy gems also support your gut health.

Pomegranate seeds, also known as pomegranate arils, are packed with polyphenols, plant compounds with antioxidant properties. Research shows polyphenols support the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut while limiting the growth of harmful strains. 

Pomegranate seeds are also rich in fiber, which feeds your gut bacteria and promotes bowel regularity. Keeping your bowels moving is crucial to support the elimination of toxins, especially if you’re cleansing with Clean 7 or Clean 21.

Tame inflammation with turmeric

While this salad is delicious on its own, the turmeric tahini dressing takes the flavor and nutrition to the next level. The star of this dressing is turmeric—the golden spice that gives curry its vibrant hue. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Inflammation plays a role in a number of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet (like turmeric) may help calm inflammation to prevent these illnesses. 

Curcumin also shows promise as a natural antidepressant. Evidence shows it increases mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. In fact, one study found curcumin’s anti-depressant effects were comparable to the antidepressant drug Prozac. 

The only drawback of curcumin is that it’s poorly absorbed. But there’s an easy hack for that: add some pepper. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which increases curcumin absorption by as much as 2,000%! So this dressing has a generous pinch of pepper.

Curcumin is also fat soluble, meaning fat helps it break down. For this reason, it’s best to include some fat when consuming turmeric. Tahini provides some healthy fats to this dressing, along with a punch of protein. 

Since this salad and dressing follow the elimination diet, you can enjoy this recipe on Clean 7 or Clean 21. It also makes a delicious option if you’re looking for a dish that’s easy on the gut, has anti-inflammatory support, or want to boost your body’s natural detox processes. 

Serves 4-6


1 medium butternut squash 

1 bunch curly kale (around 8 cups)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 medium Fuji or Gala apple, thinly sliced

¾ cup pomegranate arils

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp olive oil (divided)

½ lemon

Turmeric tahini dressing ingredients:

¼ cup tahini

Juice of 2 medium lemons (about ¼ cup)

⅓ cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

½ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp sea salt

⅛ tsp pepper


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, deseed, and chop butternut squash. 

Fall Harvest Ingredients

Add squash into a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Toss to coat and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Squash in Bowl

Roast for 35-40 minutes flipping halfway through. 

Roasted Squash

While the squash cooks, prepare the quinoa. Add quinoa and water into a pot over high heat. When water begins bubbling, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done.

As squash and quinoa cook, prepare the dressing and kale. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Wash, destem, and tear kale into bite-sized pieces. Place in the same bowl you used for the squash. 

Kale in Bowl

Massage kale with 1 tbsp olive oil, juice of ½ a lemon, salt, and pepper for a couple of minutes. This helps break down the cell wall, improves the flavor, and makes the kale easier to chew.

Once the squash and quinoa are done cooking, toss them with the kale and remaining ingredients. 

Drizzle dressing over the salad before serving and enjoy!

Fall Kale Harvest Salad Closeup

Recipe and photography by Mindy Palmer

If you like this recipe, you may also like this Wild Rice Bowl


  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/butternut-squash 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8706317/ 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9220293/ 
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-008-1300-y 
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23832433/ 
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9619120/