My diet for the last week or two has consisted mostly of cookies and soup. Before you judge me too harshly, keep in mind that I had midterms, presentations, and a cold to deal with. Cookies and soup were pretty much a necessity.
When my meals lean towards the incredibly unbalanced side of things, I like to make something super healthy to make up for it. Usually, this means kale. Why? Because I LOVE kale. Oh, and it’s super healthy, too.
|Just look at all that healthy|
This salad is basically the fall version of my kale and nectarine salad. I made that salad, or some version of it, almost every week this summer. I was craving something similar when I realized that I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter, and I decided some roasted squash would be an excellent substitute for the summer fruit. And since this is a heartier fall dish, it needed a more substantial dressing to go with it, so I reached for one of my favorite combinations; balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Then I topped it all off with some craisins, for a little extra fall goodness, and walnuts, for a little crunch. Delicious.
This salad is totally versatile. You could sauté the kale instead of leaving it raw, making it more of a side dish. Then you could add rice or quinoa and make it meal to take to work. It would also be great with shavings of parmesan or with goat cheese crumbles sprinkled over it. Whichever way you choose to eat it, it’s all the best fall flavors in one big bowl.
Kale and Butternut Squash Salad
1 bunch kale, washed, tough stems removed
1 butternut squash
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 small shallot
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup craisins
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F
1. Peel and chop the butternut squash into even, bite-sized pieces. Toss them with 3 teaspoons of olive oil and place them in one layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the pieces are just beginning to brown, and they are all for tender. Set aside to cool.
2. While the squash is baking, make the dressing. Mix the vinegar, mustard, shallot, and the remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
The dressing will be very tangy, and you can counter that by adding honey or agave, but I would wait until after pouring it over the salad. The cranberries and sweet butternut squash very nicely compliment the tang. If it’s still too tangy for you even after the salad has been mixed, mix some honey or agave with a little bit of water, then pour this over the salad as well.
3. Cut the kale leaves into ribbons and place them in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the leaves, and massage the leaves until they are wilted.
The lemon juice not only helps wilt the tough leaves, but (and here is my fun “I’m clearly a nutrition student” fact of the day) the vitamin C will also help you absorb all that good iron in the leaves.
4. When the squash has cooled, add it to the kale, along with the dressing and the craisins. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Add in the nuts just before serving to keep them crunchy, and serve room temperature.