Massaged Kale Salad with Pumpkin Tahini Dressing

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It was one of those fall days where it was perfect seasonal weather and perfect weather for an amazing salad like this kale salad with pumpkin tahini dressing! 
Massaged Kale Salad with Pumpkin Tahini Dressing is Healthy and Oil Free
But honestly, do you know the kind of autumn day I am talking about? If you are in the midwest, you probably will resonate! 
The day started cool but the forecast promised sunshine and warmer temps.
Our car was loaded down with all the types of clothes we would need that day. Sweatshirts for the morning spent at the soccer field. Short – sleeve shirts, shorts and a princess costume for the pumpkins at the park festival afterwards. And tennis shoes and socks for the hike at the nature center later that afternoon.
The day promised to be busy yet well spent soaking up the last warm weekend of fall.
And it was PERFECT.
I love these last days of fall. The rush of spending as much time outside as you can, the crunch of leaves on the trail and let’s not forget about the colors on the tree.
We actually collected the leaves and acorns used in these kale salad pictures on our nature hike.
And I love how they complement so nicely with this Massaged Kale Salad with Pumpkin Tahini Dressing!
massaged kale salad with pumpkin tahini dressing

Do You Love Kale Salad?

Well you will after this. Because who can’t resist a bowl full of so many delicious and vibrant colors? I will make this huge note about kale though! YOU MUST. And I repeat. YOU MUST: make your kale salad 12 – 24 hours before you eat it. I mentioned this in our Grilled Radishes with Marinated Kale Salad Recipe but it bears repeating again. You must massage that kale! Give it a good rub down. (or rub in). 
So plan accordingly for this fall kale salad! 
This kale salad is first massaged with salt and then tossed with a pumpkin tahini dressing, because we have to add pumpkin to everything in the fall (it’s like a must do on autumn’s to do list).
It is a star player in many dishes including this Apple Pumpkin Soup with chipotle made last week. Umm, Umm good.
Back to this oil free kale salad, we added roasted beets that have been tossed with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of raspberry balsamic. I am sure you could use regular balsamic, but you might want to add a touch of maple syrup. 

Next, we added in some quinoa, chopped honeycrisp apples and avocado.

And last but not least, toasted pecan chips.

This kale salad with pumpkin tahini dressing is fall in a bowl but edible and healthy for you!

And after our busy full of fall activities, the Massaged Kale Salad with Pumpkin Tahini Dressing was the perfect ending to the day!

If you make this healthy oil free kale salad, we would love to know! Tag @badtothebowl on social media. 

massaged kale salad with pumpkin tahini dressing-2
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Massaged Kale Salad with Pumpkin Tahini Dressing

All the tastes of fall from apples to pumpkin are in this oil free kale salad bowl!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Salads
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal


  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 roasted beets , chopped
  • 1 honeycrisp apple , chopped
  • 1 avocado , sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans

Pumpkin Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons smooth tahini
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup


  • Make dressing by combining pumpkin, tahini, water, olive oil, garlic, salt and maple syrup in blender and blending until smooth.  
  • Wash and de-stem kale. Place in bowl and use kitchen shears to chop in small pieces. Sprinkle with salt and using your hands, massage salt into the kale.
  • Drizzle dressing over kale and once again use hands to massage dressing well into kale. At this point, either proceed to step 4 and eat salad OR preferably cover salad and refrigerate for a few hours (up to 12) to soften kale leaves.
  • Sprinkle salad with quinoa, chopped beet, apple, avo slices and pecans.


  • I cooked my quinoa in vegetable broth because I think it adds a nice depth of flavor.
  • How to roast beets: wash beets, slice of ends, wrap loosely in foil, roast at 425 degrees until a fork pierces through foil easily. (I check after an hour). After they cool, chop into pieces and toss lightly with salt and raspberry balsamic vinegar. I am sure you could use regular balsamic vinegar.
  • Other apple varieties such as Fuji or Gala could be used.
  • Toasted pecans: line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place pecan chips on covered baking sheet, toast for 5 – 7 minutes at 350 degrees.


Calories: 300kcal

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