Autumn Rainbow Salad
Fall: it’s official. It’s here. Time to break out the pumpkins. The end of summer can be pretty rough. It marks the end of long, sunny, warm days and 3-day weekends to the beach and cookouts and minimal thought when it comes to clothing needed to leave the house. Autumn marks the start of a gentle gliding decent into cold, dark winter.
Sorry if that was depressing, obviously I am not a fan of cold weather. I know lots of people that love it though. You can snuggle up on the couch with a hot drink and relax knowing you are safe and warm at home. I get that. But, I would just rather be outside at a comfortable temperature. Anyway, whichever side of the seasons you are partial to, I think we can all agree that autumn produce is pretty awesome.
This time of year always brings a bounty of fruits and veggies that offer heartier flavors and feels as a welcome change from a few months of lighter summer produce. When it still isn’t too cold out, I like to pull together some of the fall newcomers into a salad that’s light, yet comforting at the same time. It’s a great way to transition through the changing seasons.
This salad is simple to make and highlights some delicious autumn favorites. If you haven’t had delicata squash before, it’s pretty cool to work with. Unlike other winter squash, you can eat the skin of the delicata, making prep a breeze. And of course it has a great, warming squash flavor as well. This salad compliments roasty slices of delicata with bright and fresh kale, carrots, and a little red onion. A simple dressing of olive oil and white balsamic gets massaged onto ribboned kale to keep things easy. It’s all topped off with sweet dried cranberries and crunchy toasty hazelnuts, which are two other very fall-y flavors that work perfectly here. I hope you enjoy this nutrient packed, delicious salad, and it helps makes the cool weather transition just a little better.
Autumn Rainbow Salad
Makes ~4 servings
1 medium delicata squash
1 bunch kale
4 medium carrots, rainbow if available
¼ cup (17g) red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ tbs. olive oil
1 ½ tbs. white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (35g) hazelnuts, toasted and halved
¼ cup (30g) dried cranberries
fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Slice the delicata in half longways. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut across into slices ¼” (.75cm) thick. In a large bowl or on a baking sheet, toss the slices with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it all (~2 tsp.), a big pinch of salt, and a couple grinds fresh black pepper. Spread out onto sheet tray and bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until pretty golden. The bottoms of the slices will get more browned than the tops. (I like to spray the sheet tray with a light layer of pan spray before adding roasting anything as it really helps prevent sticking.
While the squash is roasting, cut the kale perpendicular to the stem to create ribbons ~1/4” (.75cm) thick. (I ended up with 4 cups lightly packed kale, or 110g) In a large bowl, add the 1 ½ tbs. each olive oil and white balsamic with a big pinch of salt. Massage into the kale until well coated. Use a peeler to peel the carrots into ribbons. (I ended up with about 2 cups of ribbons)
When the squash is done, begin assembly. Toss together the kale and the carrots. Plate or serve family style in a large bowl. Garnish with the onion, roasted squash, hazelnuts, and dried cranberries. Season with more salt and pepper as you like.
Extras could keep for a couple days in the fridge, but I think it’s best fresh. OR heat it up! Sounds weird, but leftovers are amazing when given a few minutes in a hot pan. Yes, the hazels and cranberries and all!
Notes: I used black/Tuscan/dinosaur/lacinato kale, but curly, red or any other kind is fine too. To toast untoasty hazelnuts, roast in an oven at ~350°F/175°C for 5-10 minutes, until you can just start to smell their aroma. Then pull from the heat right away to avoid burning. Any other nut would work in place of the hazelnuts too. Apple cider, sherry, or white wine vinegars could be used in place of the white balsamic.