Monday, December 3, 2012

Kale Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash & Shallots

For the past six years I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my sister and I and some of her friends who are brave enough to trust whatever comes out of her tiny NYC kitchen. We usually do the standard Thanksgiving dishes, but every year I try to do a new side dish. I made this super yummy kale salad a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving and I knew it would be perfect. The flavors from the roasted butternut squash and shallots go together perfectly with the nuttiness of the cheese and walnuts. The flavors are strong, but kale is such a substantial green that it all works.

 Kale Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash & Shallots (adapted slightly from this)

1 lb. peeled and seeded butternut squash cut in 1/2 inch cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
Fresh lemon juice
Large bunch of kale, washed and chopped
4 ounces of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, crumbled
1/3 cup of chopped, toasted walnuts

The measurements above will make a large salad that will easily serve 4-6 people, but all of the following photos are for just one serving since I was just cooking for little ol' me when I made this again last week.

Pre-heat your oven to 350. If you buy a whole squash, get to work peeling and chopping that sucker. I was lazy in this instance and bought the pre-cut package. As always when roasting veggies, make sure all the pieces are about the same size so they roast evenly.  Toss the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet or dish.

You'll see why I left one side empty in just a minute. Pop the squash in the oven. The original recipe calls for it to roast for 45 minutes, but in my oven I find that this is way too much time. My oven is off, remember. I've found that 35-38 minutes is good for me so I advise checking on your squash at around 35 minutes. If yours needs 45 minutes then by all means leave it in for 45.

Ugh my cutting board. All I want for Christmas is kitchen stuff. I know you're reading this, Mom.

Next chop your shallots. How much do I love shallots? A lot. I think they're kind of under-used. They're such a great hybrid of onion and garlic without the smack-you-in-the-face powerful flavor of either. Sadly, like the onion, they make me cry like a grieving widow when I chop them. Set your shallots aside for you will be needing them in about 15 minutes.

If you have to wash and/or chop your kale, do it now. I obviously bought the packaged kind. Put your kale in a large bowl and dress it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to your taste. I am pretty picky about how I like my salads dressed (lightly) so I never specify amounts for dressing ingredients. Toss this well and let the kale sit for about half an hour. Kale is pretty sturdy so don't worry about it getting soggy. It needs to sit so the kale can lose some of its bitterness.

With about 15-20 minutes left on the squash, toss the shallots with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put them on the other half of the baking dish in the oven. Now you know what I left it empty! Less clean up.

While the squash and shallots are finishing, chop up your cheese. You can cut it into pieces or shave it. You will obviously eat a few a lot of it before it goes on the salad so do a bit extra. In this instance I used Grana Padano, which is definitely in the Top 5 of cheese for me. It's nutty, and fruity, and chewy and delicious.

Toast and chop the nuts next. I picked walnuts just because I had them on hand.

By this time your squash and shallots should be about done and your kitchen will smell divine. They will have shrunk up, but fear not.

Now all you have to do is add everything to the kale and give it a good toss.

This has become my favorite salad. It's warm, which I love, and everything goes together so, so perfectly. It's great as a side dish or even as an entree with some grilled chicken thrown in. I love that it only has a handful of ingredients but really big flavors!

What are you feelings on butternut squash? I remember being completely grossed out by it as a kid (like most things) but now I love it prepared just about any way. And how about kale? I have my sister to thank for introducing me to it a while ago. It has definitely become one of my favorite greens. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. nom nom nom that salad was so good. I am glad/honored to have introduced you to kale. Now if only we could get Dad on the bandwagon instead his usual response, "what the fuck is that seaweed shit?"