We normally think of greens, like kale, as cooking vegetables, but they also make excellent fresh salads. In the fall and winter, it’s nice to pair greens with hearty and hardy ingredients like squash, grains, fruit, nuts and seeds.
In this delicious and simple salad chock full of flavorful and nutritious ingredients, thin strips of kale are softened with a light lemony dressing and combined with a savory-sweet blend of roasted kabocha squash, farro, apples, walnuts, cranberries, olives, and capers to give it a depth of flavor. A subtle touch of walnut vinaigrette brings it all together.
Kale and Kabocha Salad with Farro and Apple
Serves about four
1 small (about 2 pounds) kabocha squash
1 bunch of lacinto kale (also called dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup cooked farro
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 apple (or pear)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in slivers
2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
pumpkin seeds, for garnish
1 tablespoon walnut oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut kabocha squash in half, scrape out the seeds and trim off all the very hard skin (this will require a bit of some elbow grease!). Cut the squash in 1-inch cubes and toss with a little olive oil and salt. Roast in oven until soft, turning once or twice, about 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Remove thick stems from kale and discard. Stack the leaves, roll them into a tight bundle, then slice very thinly to achieve a shredded look. You should have about 4-5 cups of kale which will shrink a bit after this next step: toss kale with about a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Set aside and let stand about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a dry pan or oven until fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool. Slice apple (or pear) thinly. Add farro, walnuts, apple, cranberries, olives, capers and vinaigrette to kale. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or vinegar if needed. Note, however, olives and capers are already salty. At the last minute, gently toss in cooled, roasted kabocha. Serve and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Notes: Variations are easy and plenty with this salad so feel free to make it your own. You can substitute farro with wheat berries, oat berries or kamut berries (just be sure to soak the berries overnight before cooking). A pear can be used instead of an apple; slivered almonds or pine nuts instead of walnuts; and raisins, currants or chopped dates instead of cranberries. If you’d like, add arugula to this salad for a nice peppery bite. Also, you can try a different variety of kale, like Russian kale.