Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds
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About This Recipe

Greetings, Napa Valley foodies, home chefs, and wine enthusiasts! It's Lily, and today I'm excited to dive into the essence of a massaged kale salad, enriched with oven-roasted butternut squash and dotted with pomegranate fruit seeds—a true reflection of Napa Valley's seasonal splendors.

During one of my memorable visits to Napa's picturesque farmers' markets, the vibrant colors and fresh aromas of locally-grown produce beckoned me. It was here that I was inspired to design a recipe that's not just nourishing but also a tribute to the region's farm-to-table traditions.

This kale butternut squash salad is a symphony of textures and flavors, making it an ideal choice for a light main course. If you've been searching for the perfect kale sweet potato salad alternative, this dish offers a delightful twist with the inclusion of butternut squash. The roast butternut squash cubes meld beautifully with the tender kale and the burst of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds.

Elevate your meal further by pairing this salad with a grilled chicken or fish entrée. If you're leaning vegetarian, a rich vegetable and bean stew complements this salad wonderfully.

Dessert Inspirations

After such a delightful main course, a fruit-forward dessert is a must. Think along the lines of a peach or berry crisp, using fruits directly sourced from Napa Valley's abundant orchards. For those with a more indulgent palette, a luxurious chocolate fondant accompanied by a raspberry coulis is the way to go. And what's a Napa meal without wine? A glass of Napa Valley port-style wine will be the cherry on top.

Sourcing the Best Ingredients

To recreate this kale pomegranate salad with all its authenticity, sourcing is key. Local farmers' markets such as the Napa Farmers' Market or the Calistoga Farmers' Market are treasure troves of fresh ingredients. From organic kale and butternut squash to the crispest quinoa and juicy pomegranate seeds, these markets have it all.

Wine Pairings

It's an unwritten rule: when in Napa, pair with Napa wines. A crisp, aromatic Viognier or a well-rounded, unoaked Chardonnay complements the kale and roasted butternut squash salad beautifully. For exceptional white wines, wineries like Robert Mondavi Winery and Trefethen Family Vineyards are renowned.

In conclusion, this massaged kale salad with oven-roasted butternut squash and pomegranate seeds is more than a recipe—it's an experience. An experience of Napa Valley's farm-to-table ethos right in the comfort of your home.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Kale

Kale, often hailed as a 'superfood', stands out not only for its rich green hue but also for its incredible health benefits. Native to Europe and grown for thousands of years, kale offers a variety of nutrients including vitamins A, K, C, and B6. Furthermore, it's rich in antioxidants, can help lower cholesterol, and provides cardiovascular support. When selecting kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Always store it in a cool environment since warm temperatures can wilt the leaves.

How to Properly Massage Kale for Salads

Massaging kale might sound a bit unusual, but it’s a crucial step for creating the perfect salad texture. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Wash & Dry: Always begin by thoroughly washing the kale to remove any dirt or pesticides. Use a salad spinner or pat dry with paper towels.
  2. De-stem: Hold the kale by the stem and strip the leaves.
  3. Chop: Roughly chop the kale leaves.
  4. Salt: Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the chopped kale. This helps break down the cell walls, making the kale softer.
  5. Massage: Using your hands, gently rub and squeeze the kale leaves. Continue for about 2-3 minutes or until the leaves are tender and have a slightly wilted appearance.

Massaging kale not only makes it easier to chew but also mellows its naturally bitter flavor, making it ideal for salads.

FAQs

  1. Can I substitute another type of squash for butternut squash? Absolutely! Acorn squash or delicata squash are both great alternatives. They bring their unique flavors and can roast similarly to butternut squash.
  2. How can I store the leftover salad? Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It’s best to store the dressing separately and add it just before eating to maintain freshness.
  3. Is this recipe gluten-free? Yes, quinoa is a naturally gluten-free grain, making this salad a great option for those with gluten sensitivities. However, always check other ingredient labels to ensure they haven't been processed in a facility with gluten-containing items.
  4. What if I have a nut allergy? Can I still enjoy this salad? This recipe does not contain nuts. However, always ensure that your ingredients are not cross-contaminated by checking the product labels.
  5. Can I use store-bought dressing instead? While the homemade dressing complements the flavors of this salad perfectly, a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette or apple cider vinaigrette can also work as substitutes.

Tips for Success

  1. Roast Squash Evenly: To ensure even roasting of the butternut squash, make sure to dice the pieces uniformly. Spreading them in a single layer on the baking sheet ensures they roast without steaming.
  2. Quinoa Texture: For a fluffier quinoa, let it sit for about 5 minutes after cooking and then fluff it with a fork. This ensures that any remaining water evaporates and doesn’t make your salad soggy.
  3. Salad Assembly: To let the flavors meld, combine the salad ingredients without the dressing and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Add the dressing just before serving to maintain the crisp texture of the kale.

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Fall
Yield:
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
446
Prep Time:
PT20M
Cook Time:
PT30M
Total Time:
PT50M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the diced butternut squash with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread it in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the squash for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.
  3. While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set it aside to cool.
  4. In a large salad bowl, massage the chopped kale with a pinch of salt until it softens and becomes tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the cooled quinoa and roasted butternut squash to the kale, and toss to combine.
  6. To make the dressing, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top the salad with pomegranate seeds for a burst of color and flavor.
  8. Serve this delicious Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds alongside a glass of crisp Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and savor the taste of our beautiful wine country.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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