Los Angeles is finally starting to feel like fall – just in time for Thanksgiving. The rain and cooler weather are now perfect for the season’s produce and fall dishes. And they can be just as vibrant and colorful as summer – like this salad of roasted butternut squash, purple kale, pomegranate seeds, and spiced walnuts. Serve this at your Thanksgiving table or any autumn gathering.
Don’t be intimidated by the numerous components, I’ve broken each step down, and most of it can be made ahead of time. I roasted the squash, seeded the pomegranate, washed the kale leaves, and made the spiced nuts the day before. Assembling it took just a few minutes and was made a few hours ahead before serving.
Kale, Roasted Squash, Pomegranate Seeds and Spiced Walnut Salad
You can prepare the squash, dressing, and spiced walnuts ahead of time and assemble before serving.
Yield: 8 servings
1 bunch of purple kale
1/2 cup Cinnamon and Walnut Oil Dressing
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Roasted Butternut Squash
Spiced walnuts, or use plain toasted walnuts
1. Pull kale leaves off its tough center rib, wash, rinse and dry (use a salad spinner if you have one, or dry in clean kitchen towels).
2. Slice leaves thinly and place in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the leaves and with clean hands, “massage” dressing into leaves to coat. (This softens the raw kale).
3. Mix in the roasted squash cubes, pomegranate seeds, and spiced walnuts and serve. Taste and add more dressing and/or salt if necessary. If preparing a few hours ahead, mix in walnuts just before serving.
Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes
Coconut oil solidifies below 76F. To liquify coconut oil, place your closed jar in a bowl of hot water.
1 butternut squash, or other sweet squash
2 tablespoon coconut oil, butter, or other healthy cooking fat
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Peel the skin of the butternut squash using a y-peeler. Cut in half lengthwise and discard seeds. Cut into slices then into 1-inch cubes.
3. Toss squash cubes with remaining ingredients and place on a parchment lined sheet pan in a single layer.
4. Roast squash for 45 minutes, or until starting to brown on the edges.
Spiced Cinnamon Walnuts
Great recipe for excess egg-whites. You only need about 1 cup for the salad, but it makes a great snack so I recommend making a large batch or even doubling the recipe. Inspired from Dorie Greenspan’s “Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts” in her book, Around My French Table.
Yield: 2 cups
1 egg white
1/4-1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg white and honey together lightly with a fork. Add the spices and nuts and stir until nuts are evenly coated.
3. Pour the nuts onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until coating is dry.
4. Cool completely before storing.
Cinnamon and Walnut Oil Dressing
The basic vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/acid. Learn this ratio and never buy salad dressing again. This variation adds some warm spices to match the Fall inspired salad.
Yield: 1 cup
3/4 cup walnut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, or a combination of both
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Or place in glass jar with lid, like a canning jar, or jam jar, and shake vigorously until combined (my preferred method – less cleanup, and its own storage container).