Craving a salad during comfort food season? This combo of kale, caramelized juicy grapes, and sweet butternut squash in a roasted garlic dressing will satisfy your taste buds.
Growing up, salad was never a main meal. Salad instead was served in its own bowl, next to your plate, and topped with whatever bottle of dressing that was pulled from the fridge.
Salads today are not just a bowl of iceberg lettuce and store bought croutons. Salads today are all grown up and can be served as a main course packed full of bright colorful veggies, grains, proteins and cheeses.As much as I love fall comfort food this time of year, I also crave crisp, healthy, lighter meals too. I’m a total sucker for a good salad, especially one that is substantial enough to stand alone as a main course. My Autumn Kale Salad screams fall and will leave you satisfied and full.
Bill and I have always loved a good peppery arugula or a hearty spinach. But kale? It’s taken Bill some time to warm up to kale.The game-changer moment for my husband? A really good massage.Mind out of gutter, friends. I’m talking about massaging the kale.
I used to be naive to think that simply tossing the kale in dressing and letting it sit for awhile would tenderize the kale enough. I was wrong. Instead of having a tough, bitter piece of green leaf, massaging it gives you this tender and more flavorful bite. Once I started doing this, Bill liked it better and accepted kale into our mealtime rotation.
Before I get my Autumn Kale salad going, I’m already thinking about the dressing. Bill’s a garlic fan so I’m going to roast a whole clove in the oven to make a tangy and zesty vinaigrette that I know he’ll love.I’m also roasting some seasonal produce. I’m tossing cubed butternut squash and sliced brussel sprouts with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cooking them until they are tender and beginning to brown on the edges.Never a fan of a mushy brussel sprout, I’m actually going to remove them from the sheet pan first before the squash is done cooking and add some fresh red grapes in their place. The grapes get blistered and slightly caramelized on the outside but remain extra juicy on the inside. It is a fabulous sweet salad topper and a great alternative to using something like dried cranberries.Once my veggies and grapes are done, I can let them cool while I whip up the dressing. First, a heaping tablespoon of minced shallot. And then in goes olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and dijon mustard. Then I’m going to squeeze the roasted garlic in to add a big flavor boost to my vinaigrette. And finally, to balance the savory garlic flavor with something sweet, I’m adding maple syrup to my dressing too. The syrup gives this dressing a seasonal flair that is unbeatable.
Just before tossing the dressing with the kale and getting my massage on, I’m going to add some warm quinoa. The warmth of the quinoa will start wilting the kale and help in tenderizing the dark green leaf. It also makes this a more well rounded main course.Dressing time. Look at all the fresh chunks of garlic and shallot!After that good massage, I’m ready to add in my produce. I give this huge salad a gentle toss to evenly coat everything. My kitchen smells so amazing…because of a salad! What!?
For some crunch, I’m using lightly salted and roasted pumpkin seeds.And because every great salad calls for some cheesy creaminess, in goes a good crumble of fresh briny feta.This salad is loaded with good-for-you stuff and the flavor is vibrant and so very tasty.To keep my guy happy (I mean, he did jump on board with my kale craving…) and to give him a little protein, I cooked up some fresh sausage from Truelove Farms, a small, sustainable nearby farm focused on using natural, grass-based practices. Talk about delicious! Do you like roasted butternut squash in your salads? Try my Frisée Salad with Warm Mushrooms and Truffle Oil and my Butternut Squash Fajita Salad for another fulfilling dinner salad featuring this roasted vegetable.
- 16 ounces kale, stems removed
- 20 ounces butternut squash, cubed
- 10 ounces brussel sprouts, halved
- 2 cups red grapes
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked per package instructions
- ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- feta, for garnish
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- 1 tbsp shallot, finely minced
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Wrap the whole head of garlic in foil and place on lower oven rack for 45 minutes.
- To a sheet pan, add the butternut squash and brussel sprouts. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove the brussel sprouts and let cool.
- Toss and continue roasting the butternut squash for 10 more minutes.
- Add the grapes to the sheet pan and roast with the butternut squash for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove the grapes, butternut squash, and the garlic from the oven and allow to cool.
- Add the kale to a large bowl. Top with the warm cooked quinoa and allow the kale to wilt for a few minutes.
- Mix all ingredients for the dressing together.
- Remove the garlic from the foil and squeeze the roasted garlic into the dressing. Shake to combine. Pour over the kale and quinoa and massage the kale until well coated and tender.
- Add the brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and grapes to the kale and gently stir to combine.
- Top with pumpkin seeds and crumbled feta.
Cooking times may vary based on the size of your vegetables. Adjust accordingly.
This makes a very large salad. Adjust ingredient quantities to your liking.
Try swapping out feta for goat cheese.