Kale Salad with Butternut Squash

There is a t-shirt you can buy online that reads: Eat More Kale. We couldn’t agree more. (Sign of our times: the Vermont T-shirt-maker has been challenged by fast-food company Chik-fil-A. A contemporary David and Goliath story, if ever we’ve seen one.)

Kale is excellent steamed, sautéed, braised—or crisped to make chips (check out these recipes). Tiny tender leaves are good fresh in salads. Dark, knobbly Tuscan kale, sometimes called dino kale, works beautifully in salads, too; it just needs a little hands-on coaxing. Fun, actually.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash

  • 4 oz. butternut squash (2 slices or so)
  • 1 Tbs. or so olive oil
  • Sea-salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 oz. Tuscan Kale (half a bunch)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • ¼  cup walnuts or pecans
  • A few drops maple syrup
  • 1 oz. Great Hill Blue cheese (or tangy feta, drained) cut into small cubes

Cut slices of butternut squash (from the neck.) Pare off skin and cut into cubes. Warm a pie plate or small roasting tin in a 400 F oven; add a teaspoon of olive oil, or enough to film pan. Add squash cubes, roll to coat in warm oil, season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add walnuts to pan for the last five minutes to crisp. Remove pan from oven, sprinkle a few drops of maple syrup over squash and nuts, and stir through.

Meanwhile, wash Tuscan kale in warm water. Strip out center stalks and dry leaves well. Roll up a few leaves at a time into “cigars” and slice into strips. Dump strips into a plastic Zip-lock bag. Finely mince garlic with a small pinch of sea-salt, mincing and mashing it to a paste. Add to kale along with another pinch of loose salt, freshly ground pepper, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Close bag, leaving a slit open. Scrunch bag with your hands to massage kale inside in its dressing. You can do this intermittently, until kale is tenderized and very glossy. Adjust seasoning – oil, lemon juice, salt – to your liking.

To assemble: Pile kale onto a serving plate. Stir some warm squash and nuts into kale, and arrange the rest on top. Dot with cheese–blue cheese preferably, but if you’re not a fan, try a tangy feta or even aged cheddar. Serves 1 for a meal, 2 -3 for an appetizer or side-salad. Quantities can be easily scaled up but you may need to divide kale between several bags.

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