Take a look at this salad. Tell me that doesn’t look beautiful and delicious. But don’t actually tell me that, or type me that, or whatever … because you know it’s not true. You know this baby looks fantastic. What you may not know is the little trick I used to make it taste even better. Here it is.
I massaged my greens. No kidding. I showed my kale some love and it reciprocated with taste.
Kale makes a delicious and healthy salad green, but it can also be tough and bitter. By massaging the fibrous leaves, you bring out their sweetness and transform them into something tender and easier to digest. Just chop up the kale, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and use your fingers to rub the oil into the leaves. After a minute or two, the leaves will begin to wilt and shrink. Trust me, you will notice the difference.
This kale is tossed with quinoa, roasted butternut squash, rosemary and garlic toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and creamy goat cheese. Finally, it’s finished with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette. Perfect balance. I love the varying autumn colors, flavors, and textures. Serve as a meatless main for a few, or as a side dish for a group. Beautiful, seasonal, and delicious.
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut into cubes (5-6 cups)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 large bunch lacinato kale, about 1 lb
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 garlic clove, skin removed and left whole
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3 oz goat cheese
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Apple cider vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss chopped butternut squash cubes with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, tossing half way through.
- Thoroughly rinse quinoa under running water. In a small pan, bring 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat. Once liquid is boiling, add quinoa, stir well, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and cool to room temperature. Alternatively, follow cooking directions on package.
- While the butternut squash and quinoa cook, prepare the walnuts. In a saute pan over medium-low heat add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add garlic, rosemary, walnuts, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until walnuts are toasted and golden. (Keep a close eye on these, they will burn easily.) Remove garlic and rosemary, and chop toasted walnuts –Look at you, you just made rosemary and garlic toasted walnuts! — (Note: Do not throw out the garlic clove that just roasted with the walnuts, here is an Emily tip – slather that goodness on a piece of toasted bread. What chef doesn’t love a little snack mid cooking session.)
- Wash, remove stems, and finely shop kale. Put kale in serving bowl, add 2 tsp of olive oil and massage with your hands for 2 minutes. This will help to wilt the kale.
- Next, prepare the salad dressing. Combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, honey, shallot, and garlic in a mason jar. Secure lid and give it a good shake. Alternatively, whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Salad assembly time – Add the cooled quinoa to the kale and toss with half of the vinaigrette. Top with butternut squash, walnuts, cranberries, and goat cheese. Toss again and add additional salad dressing if needed. Note: I only used half of the vinaigrette and saved the rest to dress a salad later in the week.
Servings: 4-6 as a side dish (2-3 as a main dish)