For your Thanksgiving table, a dinner party or a weeknight dinner, this harvest kale salad recipe really brings it.
We make a whole lot of salads around here, and most of the time there’s nary a recipe in sight. But sometimes you need a salad that communicates thoughtfulness and composure. Maybe you’re planning a Thanksgiving menu or bringing the salad to a potluck dinner party. Maybe you just want to fancy things up at home a little bit without a whole lot of effort. Those are the kinds of moments when you might turn to this harvest kale salad recipe.
Delicata squash is a real favorite of ours, and happily it’s become a lot easier to find in the past 10 years or so. The flavor of a good delicata is almost inexplicably complex and satisfying for something that comes from a seed in the ground. The texture of the flesh is fabulous — not too wet, not too dry. It holds is beautiful shape like a charm. And the skin is edible, so there’s no need to peel. What more could you ask for in a squash?
This harvest kale salad recipe takes all that delicata goodness and layers it into a bowl bursting with fall colors, flavors and textures. There’s so much goodness that the squash doesn’t have to feel conspicuously like the star of the show. It’s in the right peer group, and that’s really saying something.
The best part is that even though this salad looks like a million bucks, it’s actually very easy to put together. It will hold for quite a few hours, too, so you can assemble it in a spare moment on Thanksgiving or before you leave the house for that dinner party, even if it will be a while before it’s served. And if you’d rather keep it all for yourself on a weekday, toss in some chickpeas or other protein of your choice (hello, leftover turkey) and call it a one-bowl dinner.
That’s all for now. See you soon.
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Harvest Kale Salad Recipe
An easy but special kale salad that's bursting with the colors of the season. Perfect for Thanksgiving or a dinner party. Or make it a whole weeknight meal by adding some chickpeas or other protein. (Hello, leftover turkey.)
- 1 delicata squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing squash
- 2 bunches curly kale
- 1/4 small red onion, sliced very thin
- 1 big handful thinly sliced cabbage
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup walnut halves and pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Drizzle of balsamic glaze*
Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the center.
Cut the squash into 1/4-inch thick rings (remove seedy centers with a biscuit cutter) or half-rings (halve squash first from stem to bottom and scoop out seeds with a spoon). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange squash slices on parchment, and brush tops with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned and tender, about 25 minutes total. Flip slices with a spatula halfway through.
Strip the kale leaves from their stems and discard stems. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly and place in a large salad bowl along with the onion and cabbage. Add two tablespoons olive oil, the cider vinegar and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the veggies. This will ensure the kale and cabbage are nice and tender and the onions surrender a bit of their bite. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Set a small pan over medium heat and add walnuts and sugar. Keep a close eye on the pan as you cook, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently as you go along, to melt the sugar onto the nuts and lightly toast the nuts. Stop when nuts are nicely toasted, even if there's still some unmelted sugar. They'll be delicious either way.
To serve the salad, gently toss in most of the walnuts and pomegranate arils. Arrange the squash slices overtop and sprinkle with a few more nuts and arils.
To make your own balsamic glaze, briskly simmer regular balsamic vinegar in a small pan or pot until it's reduced enough to be a little syrupy. You can get a sense for the consistency you're after by looking at the photos above. Keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools. Let cool before drizzling.