Butternut Squash and Massaged Kale Chickpea Pasta Salad

The only thing better than getting a bunch of healthy foods? Enjoying them in one delicious combination.

Butternut Squash, Kale, Chickpea Pasta Salad
 Courtesy Image

Belly fat is known to increase your risk of heart disease. In a 2016 study on how diet quality affects fat in different areas of the body, researchers found that a high-quality diet was (surprise!) associated with less belly fat.

So: which foods are in this high quality, belly-busting diet? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and yogurt. In this pasta salad recipe you will find whole grains, vegetables, seeds, and fruit.

Nutrition Information (per 1 cup serving)

Calories: 254, Protein: 9 grams, Fat: 12 grams, Carbs: 31 grams

Recipe and photo by Mandy Unanski Enright, M.S., R.D.N., R.Y.T., of Nutrition Nuptials.

Prep time

15 min.

Cook time

45 min.

  • For the massaged kale:
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon rosemary seasoning
  • For the salad:
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon rosemary seasoning
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli pasta or whole wheat pasta, prepared to package directions
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pepita seeds
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup lemon grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon rosemary seasoning, divided

Prepare the marinated kale by mixing the kale, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. lemon olive oil, and 1 Tbsp. lemon rosemary seasoning together in a bowl. Using your hands (I prefer to wear gloves when I do this), massage the oil, lemon juice, and seasoning into the kale leaves. Once the leaves have received a good massage, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

Place chopped butternut squash on a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil. Coat the squash with olive oil and lemon rosemary seasoning, and spread into an even layer on the pan. Bake in a 425ºF oven for 30-35 minutes, or until squash is tender.

While squash is roasting, cook pasta. Once pasta is drained, run under cold water to stop cooking process.

Combine the pasta, squash, and remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in the massaged kale. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later.