Kale and winter squash salad

If someone would ask me about any particular food items I came across and fell in love with while in New York (I don’t know why anyone would, but that’s not the point ok?), I would say winter squash every day of the week. Besides the fact that there are so many different varieties and they’re thereby endlessly versatile, they’re just so freaking good. Actually, one the first meals Michael cooked for me featured delicata squash (which happens to be the star of the show in this recipe too), and he had roasted slices of it in the oven – but not just any slices. They had been brushed with butter, drizzled with maple syrup and dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg. I was already madly in love at this point, but if I hadn’t been, I’m pretty sure Michael would have won my heart right there and then (never underestimate the power of the combination of butter, sweetness and cinnamon).

Winter squash is quickly growing in popularity in Sweden, and last season we spotted not just butternut squash but some other varieties as well, even at the local grocery store. No delicata though, and since this is our no 1 favorite, we decided to grow it ourselves this year. The yield is looking quite good, and the flavor is amazing. For those with green thumbs – the variety is called “delicata zeppelin”. This recipe doesn’t involve many fancy ingredients – it’s a fairly simple affair and perfectly suited for our #localthirty challenge. As per many of our recipes and our cooking philosophy in general, you can of course use any type of kale and any type of winter squash (potatoes or root vegetables of any kind would work too – parsnip is actually another favorite). We’re really just looking for a green, a grain, a starchy vegetable and an allium (onion) to be tossed with a dressing and topped by both something sweet and something crunchy. In true #localthirty spirit, we have dehydrated our own plums and made prunes, which we chopped up  and used for the sweet topping, but dried cranberries or raisins would do the trick too. It’s truly a fall salad at its best, this one (and it looks pretty too).

För recept på svenska, klicka här: Sallad på svartkål och vintersquash

4 large servings

Salad

1 lb dino kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
2 lbs delicata squash, de-seeded and cut into roughly 1” cubes (no peeling needed)
3” leek, thinly sliced
2 cups wheat berries

Dressing

1/4 cup canola oil
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sweet whole grain mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp salt
A few grinds of black pepper

Toppings

A handful of prunes, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Set the oven to 400 F. Toss squash cubes with a little bit of canola oil, salt and black pepper and roast for approx. 20 min or until soft but firm. Cook the wheat berries according to package instructions. In the meantime, place the kale in a big bowl and drizzle the tiniest bit of canola oil over it. Sprinkle with salt, and then massage the kale for a few minutes or until the leaves turn darker and glossier in color and start to soften a little. Add the sliced leek, squash and cooked wheat berries and mix well. Set aside. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and stir into the salad. Top with chopped prunes and toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.

Note on the mustard: in Sweden, we have something called ‘sweet and strong whole grain mustard’, which is ridiculously good. If you can’t get your hands on a jar of that, use regular whole grain mustard – but you might want to go a little less than what the recipe suggests, and you might also want to add a little bit more sweetener. For the very ambitious, putting the mustard in a mortar and smashing it up just a little bit would make the consistency even closer to what we’re after.

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