Of cabbages and kings

Kale. Not a vegetable I was familiar with before stumbling across this recipe on my favourite cooking blog sometime last year. I even had to google it to find out which vegetable family it belonged to (most closely related to the cabbage, in case you wanted to know). I made that Orangette recipe once or twice and enjoyed it, but then kind of forgot that kale existed again. Until this week. Now that I'm getting into cooking in a big way I've started perusing the blogosphere again, and on the front page of one I found a recipe for kale and winter squash salad which sounded delicious.

Well, I made this salad for myself earlier in the week, tested it out on some friends tonight, and plan to make it for dinner with the family on the weekend. I'm not often moved to make the same recipe three times in one week, but this is just so good that right now, I want to eat it every day. Very simple to make, but the combination of flavours elevates it into something special. I promised lots of recipes involving cheese on this blog, and this fits the bill (and forget about the half-fat mild cheddar for this one - it needs something crunchy and sharp to cut through the caramelised sweetness of the butternut squash).

Kale and butternut squash salad
(Adapted from Northern Spy's kale salad)

1/2 cup cubed butternut (or other winter) squash (I also added some sweet potato)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups curly kale
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled or grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
parmesan, for shaving (optional)

Heat the oven to 425° F. Toss the squash cubes in just enough olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet, leaving space between the cubes. Roast in the oven until tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes, tossing with a spatula every 10-15 minutes. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the same oven until they start to smell nutty, tossing once, for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the kale, pine nuts, cheddar cheese and squash, and toss in approximately 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and serve. This should do for about two people as a main dish, but will serve more as a starter or side salad.

Best served with champagne and enjoyed with friends on a good news day, which was what today was for me!

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'd never encountered kale until Alex poled up to our London flat tonight bringing the ingredients and proceeded to recreate her amazing salad. We were impressed. I was more than impressed.

    I enjoy the process of discovery. Kale is new to me. It's a feisty substance that is naturally curly ( so we already have something in common) and it tends to fight back on the palate but in a pleasing manner. The squash, cheese and toasted pine nuts keep it in check and subdue its exuberant tendencies to a degree.

    We suggested at dinner that one could substitute blue cheese for the sharp cheddar and maybe toasted almonds for the pine nuts.

    But then it would be a completely different dish and I get reprimanded by my daughter when I start taking huge liberties with recipes which change them completely from their original form.

    To those who feel dubious about 'statement' greens: I recommend this one highly. It's a real keeper and one that we'll make over and over.

    Thanks Alex. x