OK, this salad is my new addiction!
We all know that kale is good for us - right? If you don't, read this.
I love sauteed kale with garlic, or putting it in a smoothie. But, kale salad has been a bit difficult to love. However, I have recently learned that the secret to a great kale salad is to massage it. I know, sounds kind of weird, but it's essential to soften the kale and make it a palatable salad green. I even got my sister to like kale salad with this one (wink, wink Suz)!
To massage kale, wash, dry, and cut it into bite sized pieces (remove tough center membrane & discard). Then place it in a bowl, and squeeze a lemon over it. Drizzle with about 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Then, get in there with your hands and start "massaging" the kale. Just squeeze the leaves and toss it around at the same time. Do this for a few minutes. At this point, you can add in any ingredients you might like (we love radishes or fennel, toasted nuts, dried cranberries or apple). Now toss again with a vinaigrette of your choice... voila! Yummy kale salad.
When I saw this kale salad recipe I knew I would love it! I LOVE butternut squash and usually roast it along with apples or pears, or make soup with it. And, quinoa is such a great source of protein and adds great texture to any salad. We eat it often.
This recipe didn't call for the kale to be massaged -- so I did my little trick on it first, then followed the rest of the recipe, and it turned out fantastic.
You can buy your butternut squash whole or pre-chopped. Unless I'm going to use it right away, I don't buy the pre-chopped kind. To use a whole butternut squash, simply peel the outside, then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and cube. A medium size squash yields about 2 cups of small cubes.
Butternut Squash, Quinoa, & Kale Salad
1 cup quinoa (I used half golden, half red)
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 2 cups)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8-10 cups kale, cut into bite sized pieces and "massaged" with lemon, olive oil, & salt (see above)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Cook the quinoa according to package directions on stove top. Set aside to cool.
Using a lined baking sheet, spread out the butternut squash cubes evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Watch to ensure they don’t burn.
When squash is done, remove from oven. Cook the walnuts on a baking sheet for 5-8 minutes or until toasted.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, & honey. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large serving bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, the roasted butternut squash cubes, massaged kale, walnuts, and the dried cranberries. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to coat (you may not need all the dressing). Serve immediately.
I find it helpful to cook the quinoa and butternut squash a day ahead so they are well chilled when the salad is made. You can also wash, dry and cut the kale ahead of time.
You can skip the massaging part if you are able to obtain baby kale. It is much more tender than regular.