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Smoky Squash and Chicken Wings with Kale

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 ½ hours

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates per serving: 19 grams

If you're looking to:

Lower the carbs: Swap in 4 cups of turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into chunks, for the squash.

Lower the fat: Honestly, there’s not a lot of skimping to do here. You could try reducing the olive oil a bit.

Lower the salt: Use less salt.


3 pounds chicken wings 

3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 ½ teaspoons table salt)

1 small-ish butternut squash

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons chipotle puree* (or a smokey chipotle-style hot sauce, such as Tabasco Chipotle Pepper)

2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 bunch kale (any type), washed and dried

1 lime

* To make the chipotle puree, scrape an entire (7-ounce) tin of chipotle in adobo (brands to look for include Embasa, San Marcos, Herdes, and La Costeña) into the blender and puree it. Store it in your fridge in an impeccably clean glass jar where it will keep indefinitely − unless it doesn’t, which sometimes happens. Adding a thin layer of oil on top seems to help keep it longer in the fridge.


  1. Heat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil. 

  2. Toss the chicken wings with 2 teaspoons of the salt (I do this right in the paper or package they came in).

  3. Prepare the butternut squash: cut it in half lengthwise, and use a spoon or melon baller to scrape out the seeds. Now cut each half in half again, still lengthwise, then cut each quarter crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Now take a math test and get a perfect score!

  4. In a large bowl, mix the oil, the chipotle puree, the garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the squash and use your hands or a silicone spatula to mix well, then add the wings and mix very well.

  5. Spread the chicken and squash on the prepared baking sheet and take a minute to organize it so that all (or most) of the squash pieces are cut-side down, and nothing is unnecessarily overlapping. The pan will be crowded, and that’s fine.

  6. Put it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, prepare the kale: strip the ruffly leaves off the stems (you can totally skip this step if you want to be a whole-foods purist, and eat the stems – or you can save them to toss into a soup or stir fry). Stack and bunch the leaves together, then use a large, very sharp knife to sliver them as fine as you can. Put the slivered kale in a large bowl.

  8. Now check on the chicken and squash: Does it all look okay so far? If anything seems to be especially brown on the bottom, use a spatula to flip it over, then turn the oven up to 425° Fahrenheit and bake until everything is browning and the chicken is crisp, around another 30 minutes.

  9. Use tongs to move the chicken wings to a plate, then scrape the squash and all of the pan juices into the bowl with the kale. Toss gently but very thoroughly, until the kale starts to wilt, then add the juice of half the lime and toss some more. Taste the salad. If it needs more salt or lime juice, or even a bit more garlic or chipotle, add it now.

  10. Pile the kale and squash on a platter, arrange the wings on top, and serve. 

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her book "How to Be A Person" was published in 2020. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]