Healthy, filling salad of kale, winter squash, and slices of fuyu persimmons.

Kabocha and Kale Salad with Persimmons : The Wimpy Vegetarian


I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We travelled to Portland (Oregon), to see close friends and family and had a wonderfully fun and food-filled week. Now that we’re back home, I’m craving salads. The first one I made upon resettling at home was this one that incorporates kale and squash, inspired by a similar salad I saw last year on Food52. It might not rank up there with peanut butter and chocolate, but kale and squash is one of my favorite food combinations, and this time of year when both are in season, it’s my favorite kind of salad.

I love the vast array of shapes and colors of squash all jumbled together up on a table at the Farmer’s Market. I’ve played with butternut and acorn squashes for years, but kabocha was a new one for me a couple of years ago when I ran into it in school. Also known in some circles as a Japanese pumpkin, I’d seen it around and had been curious about it, but had never ventured any further than that. For those of you new to kabocha, it has a knobby, dull, greenish-gray skin that hides  vibrantly deep yellow flesh.

Kabocha Squash

It can be baked whole or chopped into smaller pieces and roasted. I peel it with a potato peeler, but the skin is thick and hard, so a sharp knife sometimes works better. When baked, kabocha is a drier squash than either the butternut or acorn variety, and more dense reminding me a bit of sweet potatoes; if squash can have a rich flavor, this is surely it. And it may be the sweetest squash I’ve tried, pairing wonderfully with coconut milk.

For this recipe I chopped the kabocha up into bite-sized cubes, tossed them in olive oil and dusted them with a rub of coffee, chocolate and brown sugar. Coconut sugar works great in this rub too. I roasted them until they were tender.

kabocha squash roasted

The coffee flavor added a lot of depth to the kabocha and to the salad.

Feel free to throw apples into the salad instead of persimmons, but if you see some persimmons at the store I recommend them for the juicy contrast they offer to the kabocha. I just sliced one up and tossed it in. If I had some pomegranate seeds, I would have added them too. Next time, I’ll make sure I have some on hand.

This is a great salad for your body between the eating holidays of the year when we all consume more sweets, breads, and snacks than we normally do. And it’s so easy to make. Enjoy!

Kabocha and Kale Salad with Persimmon Slices

     by Susan Pridmore

     Serves 4

       Prep Time: 20 minutes

       Cook Time: 10 minutes


Kabocha and Kale Salad

  • 1 kabocha squash
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or make your own)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs
  • 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 bunch kale (I used curly purple kale, but any kale works great)
  • 1 Fuyu persimmon
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pomegranate seeds


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the kabocha squash and chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss in enough olive oil to well coat the pieces. Lay them out on the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, coffee and cacao nibs together in a spice grinder and grind together for 15 seconds. Sprinkle over the kabocha pieces. Roast for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside.
  3. Remove the center stem of the kale leaves and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Thoroughly wash and dry. Add to a large bowl.
  4. Slice the fuyu persimmon into slices and add to the bowl along with the cheddar cheese, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate seeds.
  5. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix well. Toss the squash in 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Add the rest of the dressing to the salad in the bowl and toss. Add the squash pieces and lightly toss again.
  6. This is best served while the squash is still warm.
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16 Responses to “Kabocha and Kale Salad with Persimmon” Subscribe

  1. Rosemary November 29, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I’d never have thought of a cocoa-coffee rub for Kabocha! It’s a new squash to me the past couple years too, my CSA box has it regularly in winter. Last night I roasted in quarters then made carrot-ginger-soup with it — very delicious but a little grainier than butternut.
    Rosemary recently posted..Comment on Butternut Squash Salad by Rosie’s KitchenMy Profile

  2. diabeticFoodie November 29, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    We’re on the same wavelength – I’m cooking a Kabocha squash tonight (with Asian flavors). Love the coffee rub idea!
    diabeticFoodie recently posted..Build a Better Me, Month 11: Eat More Vegetarian MealsMy Profile

  3. Hannah November 29, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Yes to squash and kale! Two of my favorites, as well. I love the idea of a cocoa-coffee rub and since I have a kabocha squash on hand I know what we’re having for dinner tonight. Thank you for sharing!
    Hannah recently posted..Broccoli Apple SoupMy Profile

  4. TasteFood November 29, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Wonderful seasonal salad, Susan. I love the idea of using cocoa – brilliant.
    TasteFood recently posted..Masala Chai with Almond Milk, Dates and HoneyMy Profile

  5. Choc Chip Uru November 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    There is such a great flavour range in this my friend it looks delicious 😀

    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Guest Post #1: Green Chutney Chicken FajitasMy Profile

  6. Norma Chang November 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I don’t care for raw kale so would probably saute the kale lightly, cool then continue with the recipe.

  7. mjskit November 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    oh YUM! I love kale salad, but I do like to massage the kale a little to break it down. The roasted Kabocha and persimmon sounds wonderful with the kale! Believe it or not, I have every ingredient for this salad so therefore, it will grace my table this weekend! Thanks for sharing!
    mjskit recently posted..Grits and Green ChileMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian November 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Oh great!! I’d love to hear what you think, MJ. I want to make your grits – I have my grits on the counter right now as I write this :-). Sometimes I massage the kale too, and there’s evidence it’s healthier if you do. The theory goes that massaging the leaves breaks down the cellular walls, releasing the enzymes that are so good for you. I figure that might be happening with my chewing, but either way, this is a really healthy, post-holiday salad.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Kabocha and Kale Salad with Persimmon SlicesMy Profile

  8. Terra December 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Your addition of coffee is truly unique, and I love it! I honestly tried persimmon once, and I did like them. I haven’t cooked/baked with them yet, I truly need to though! Your salad sounds hearty and delicious, Hugs, Terra
    Terra recently posted..Turkey A La King My Way!My Profile

  9. Mary @ Fit and Fed December 11, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I’m sure this salad is quite beautiful with the orange kabocha and persimmon and the ruby pomegranate arils. I’ve been cooking with kabocha a lot this fall, too. I love the rub you created for the kabocha! I’ve just gotten my first packages of cocoa nibs lately and am starting to figure out how to use them in my cooking. This is my first time to your blog today and I love it so much that I just subscribed!
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Kabocha Coconut CurryMy Profile

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