The particular ingredients of this salad are inspired by one we had at The Walrus and the Carpenter on our trip to Seattle last fall when Mike and I found ourselves duking it out over the last bites at dinner. I truly never thought I’d see the day when we would have to evenly divide up a salad to ensure equal opportunity – chocolate cake, maybe; leafy greens, no. I took some notes of the ingredients in my phone thinking I’d try to make it for us after we returned to New York.
Alas, after the great iphone meltdown of 2015 with all notepads lost I had to rely on my memory and my own personal preferences to recreate at least the spirit of that dish. Something lemony, something hearty, a little cheese, toasted nuts for crunch and here we are. A salad that inspires second helpings and can be made in advance. Even assembled this salad can stay in the refrigerator for a day or two.
To be honest, I was never a huge fan of kale in salads until I had a marinated kale salad. Game changer. With arugula or spinach, limiting the time the delicate leaves are in contact with the dressing is essential to prevent wilting. Marinating kale in an acidic dressing takes what is normally a drawback of traditional salads and turns it into a virtue – using the dressing to break down the fibrous leaves, infusing them with flavor, and leaving them perfectly tender, but still crisp.
Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash and Parmesan (serves 4)
3 cups (1 bunch) lacinato kale ribbons (aka black or Tuscan kale)
1 medium delicata squash
2 ounces parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pistachios
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
1/4 cup (2-3 lemons) lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the kale leaves before removing the tough central rib by running a chef’s knife along either side. Cut the kale leaves into ribbons by stacking 3-4 leaves and rolling vertically, end to end, into a cigar shape. Cut horizontally across the roll to create long strips.
Once all of the kale is prepared, whisk together the freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper for the marinade/dressing. Toss the kale ribbons with the dressing in a medium mixing bowl and set aside at room temperature for 2-3 hours or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, stir occasionally.
To prepare the squash, wash the exterior and cut a thin slice from the top and bottom to remove the stem. Slice the remaining squash horizontally into 1/3” wide rounds (no need to peel!) Scoop out the seeds and pulp from each ring with a spoon and place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes turning every 7-10 minutes to ensure even caramelization.
While the squash is roasting, grate the Parmesan cheese, and toast the pistachios in a dry pan over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Watch the pistachios carefully and stir occasionally to prevent them from burning.
Layer the marinated kale, roasted squash, toasted pistachios, pepitas, and parmesan. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Inspired by The Walrus and the Carpenter and adapted from the Marinated Kale Salad in A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson and Jess Thomson.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Absolutely. I used a medium mixing bowl, chef’s knife, medium cutting board, and liquid measuring cup. I also needed a rimmed baking sheet, tongs, box grater, and small sauté pan in addition to a regular spoon, measuring cups and spoons. Aluminum foil will help with clean up.
I took a batch of this kale salad along with us on a weekend trip when I didn’t know what the kitchen situation would be and wanted to have a few items prepped for on the fly meals. Mike and I had this for a lighter soup & salad lunch and it was perfect. Simultaneously hearty and light, great flavor, and came straight from the refrigerator onto our plates ready to go. The brightness of the lemon and salty parmesan balances nicely against the richer squash, pistachios and pepitas with the now-tender kale providing a crunchy backdrop. This is a great fall salad for entertaining or lazy weekends at home.