It is super uncool to talk about kale salad right now. It’s so last year, so overdone. And on top of that it’s January and kale salad qualifies as a healthy food which means it’s also cliché to post this here. That’s what we’re dealing with: an uncool cliché. But I’ve already been holding onto this recipe for too long without sharing. So long that when I mentioned to Jeff that I was posting it this week he thought I’d already done it – we’ve been eating this salad for that long.
Is this then, the right time to talk about how I don’t really like kale salad?
Old and busted: raw kale salad
New and exciting: kale chip salad
Everyone and their mother totally fell in love with raw kale salad a few years ago Including my mother. (hi mom). Including me. But here’s the thing, I don’t really like raw kale salad. It falls on the list of things that taste agressively healthy. Raw kale has a very astringent green taste that I rarely enjoy. I kind of gave up on kale salad until I saw this recipe for a pizza and got inspired to make a salad.
That may sound totally strange – pizza inspired me to make this salad – but when I’m looking at recipes nine times out of ten I’m already thinking of ways to cut out a few steps and get the flavor without all the work. This recipe was for pizza with butternut squash, kale, and pomegranate, so I skipped the pizza crust, put the toppings in a bowl, and called it salad – who says salad has to be raw vegetables?
Kale Chip and Butternut Squash Salad
Inspired by a recipe on Half Baked Harvest
Make 2 large or 4 side-dish servings
When you make this, please please please set a timer for the roasting kale. It does not take long to go from nutty-and-crispy to burnt-and-ashy and if you think you will catch it without a timer, good luck to you. I ruined three batches before I gave in and submitted to the timer. Now it works every time.
And on that note, if you just don’t want to deal with roasting the kale, this salad works equally well with a few handfuls of arugula. It saves you about 10 minutes and a potentially ruined batch of kale and on some nights, that is totally worth it.
I originally envisioned this recipe with pomegranate seeds and we’ve eaten it that way but then when I made it this week pomegranates had suddenly gone out of season here so I substituted dried cranberries. It was different but equally good and if you too have sadly reached the end of pomegranate season, you can still enjoy this salad all winter long.
1 small butternut squash (under 2 pounds) or half of a larger butternut, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares.
2 tbs oil
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 bunch kale, stems removed and cut into ½-inch strips. The strips should be very dry or they won’t roast, they’ll just steam
1/4-1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
Salad dressing, to taste (I like to use this one but a balsamic-based dressing would be great too).
Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the butternut cubes with the oil and a teaspoon of salt and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the cubes are soft and browned on the side touching the foil. You can also roast for 15 minutes and then give them a toss to get even more browning on the cubes.
Once the butternut comes out of the oven, scrape it off the pan and into a serving bowl. Turn on your broiler and spread half the kale onto the sheet pan which should still have the oiled foil on it. Toss it around to get some oil on it and then spread it out so the pieces have space; if they’re too close they’ll steam. Broil the kale for 3-5 minutes; check it often after 3 minutes and pull it out of the oven when the ends are just a little browned and the kale rustles when you stir it around. In my oven that’s at about 4 minutes. When the first batch it done, add it to the bowl with the butternut and then repeat the process with the second batch of kale.
When all the kale is done, toss it with the last teaspoon of salt and the squash. Then add the pomegranate seeds or cranberries and add as much dressing as you’d use to dress a salad.
You can serve the salad immediately or let it sit out at room temperature to marinate a little bit. Because kale is a hearty green it will also last in the fridge as leftovers and while the kale won’t stay crispy it won’t wilt too much and the flavors will meld as they sit together. It will last for up to a week.