This simple gluten-free and vegan salad recipe will help you get your greens joyfully. Go for the “shock-and-blanch” culinary technique when preparing your kale, and you’ll never look back. If you boil the kale quickly in salt water, then transfer it into a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking, the tender results are worth the extra effort. They can then be dressed just like regular salad greens, but you won’t hurt your jaw trying to break them down.
Kale tends to be an astringent, bitter vegetable even when it’s cooked, so it needs something on the sweeter side to balance it out. Enter butternut squash, which caramelizes ever so wonderfully in the oven.
Additionally, the salad dressing is not to be overlooked. Pomegranate molasses has a savory, sweet-tart flavor unlike any vinegar. Though it seems like a strange ingredient, most health food stores carry it. If not, pomegranate juice can be substituted. You might be delighted by how often you end up compulsively whisking together this lemon-EVOO-pomegranate dressing over a standard balsamic. It’s not as acidic and alarming to your taste buds, but rather will compel you to help yourself to another scoop because it’s so tasty.
Roasted, salted pistachios add that bit of crunch the salad needs to keep it texturally interesting. A small amount of dried fruit like cherries, raisins, or figs work really well with this salad too. And then, there’s the added benefit that this salad actually keeps. If anything, an additional day of marinating in the pomegranate-lemon dressing improves the flavor.
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 head curly kale, stems and leaves chopped
1 shallot, cut into a small dice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
4 ounces (115 g) pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Thoroughly rub 1 tablespoon olive oil and about ½ teaspoon kosher salt onto butternut squash cubes and scatter on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until fork tender and caramelized on the outside. Flip squash once during baking. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it liberally. Separately fill a large bowl with ice and water for an ice bath.
Blanch kale in boiling water until tender, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Quickly drain in a fine mesh sieve and shock in the ice bath. Massage kale so all hot pockets are thoroughly cooled. Remove from ice and use your hands to squeeze out excess water.
Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, shallot, lemon juice and zest, and pomegranate molasses and whisk together.
Toss dressing with the kale. Salt to taste, if necessary.
On a large plate, make a bed of the kale. Top with butternut squash and pistachios. MAKES FOUR SERVINGS.
NUTRITION FACTS (PER SERVING):
Protein 9 g
Total fat 24 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbs 29 g
Fiber 7 g
Total sugars 8 g
Added sugars 2 g
Sodium 260 mg