Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Afternoon: Kale & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

            Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~ Henry James

True, that.  I hope you are enjoying all of your summer afternoons so far.  We're creeping into late July, and someone please tell me how the heck that happened.  Already.  Do you get the feeling that you haven't done all that you've wanted to do, so far?  I do.  I feel like I'm falling behind on summer; chasing after it, pleading with it, to hold on for just as sec.  Wait for me.  Don't be in a rush.  And for God's sake don't leave before I've gone on at least one road trip, dipped my toes in a lake and curled up with just a book and a glass of iced tea.  Let me catch up to your lazy, hazy days.  I'm sorry I've been working like a madwoman, crazy early hours, with a bedtime that happens before the sun has completely left for the day.  That hasn't happened since 1983. Oh the travails of being an early morning baker.  I am, kind of/sort of, beginning to grow fond of the dawn's early light, and the serene stillness it brings.  There's still a hush over the city, save for the birds chattering away.  I slowly unwind from my slumber, pull a brush through my rat's nest and put the kettle on for tea.  Yes, there is a full work day ahead, but also a good chunk of summer afternoon left for me to do with as I will.  We've got time.  

This kale salad happened just last week, on a day off.  A major storm warning, okay, a tornado watch, had been issued at 10:00 that morning.  Sheesh.  That didn't bode well.  Being of somewhat paranoid mind, I took to the garden and picked most of my greens - God forbid hail should flatten them.  I love my greens and they are surprisingly fabulous this year.  No bugs have worked their wretched ways on my hard work.  The arugula and lettuce and baby kale were all picked and washed.  I tucked the pots of tomatoes under shelter.  I staked hollyhocks and delphiniums.  I put away the lawn furniture.  I was ready, dammit.  And you know what?  We never even got a drop of rain.  Other parts of the province got hammered, but my little corner was ignored.  Cool.  So what to do with all this kale?  Make salad of course! 

This recipe calls for turning your oven on.  Just thought I'd give you a heads up about that.  If you're in the midst of a heat wave you might not be crazy about the idea.  But when the time comes and you're ready, turn it on and roast some butternut squash.  Cook a tray of bacon at the same time.  Toast some almonds for ten minutes, too.  Arrange a good handful or three of fresh baby kale on your prettiest platter.  Summer days call for eating off of pretty things, don't you think?  Bacon works really well in this salad, but is by no means requisite.  Chop it up, if you are using it, and sprinkle it about.  Toss on the almonds, give them a chop in half first.  Next, add the warm, roasted squash.  Take your vegetable peeler and peel off strips of good, hard cheese - I used a perfectly awesome Manchego.  A good, old white cheddar, crumbled about, would also be excellent, as would shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino.  Next, drizzle with your best olive oil and give a good squeeze of fresh lemon.  If a pot of nasturtiums is at your back door, don't hesitate to garnish with them. 

Simple, fresh ingredients make a wondrous salad.  Smoky and salty, sweet and crisp, bright and tangy.  As the clouds loomed benignly overhead, I ate every last bit off my pretty platter, not wanting for anything more, or less. 

Kale & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

If you really don't want to roast squash, slices of apple would be great.  I imagine leftover roasted sweet potato or beets would work well too.  This salad is great if you let it sit for a bit, but no need to massage the leaves unless your kale is rather tough.  I'm looking forward to playing around with other add-ins, changing up the nuts and cheese, and maybe adding grapes or cherries.  Go for it!  

1/2 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 - 3 cups of fresh kale, ribs removed and sliced.  If using baby kale, it's tender enough, no need to chop.
6 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup Manchego, Parmesan or old cheddar, thinly shaved or crumbled
fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 425*F.  Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread on a bake sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for about 30 minutes,stirring halfway.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.  Arrange kale, bacon, almonds on platter.  Toss on the cheese and roasted squash.  Squeeze fresh lemon and drizzle good olive oil on salad.  That's it.  Serves 1-2.  Recipe adapted from Food 52.



  1. summer food is so beautiful, so satisfying, so good! i love looking at all the wonderful stuff i bring home from market and planning my week's menus...and salads always figure high on the list - even on cool days like today! and i like the idea of this salad with warm beets....

  2. This is what summer is all about, right? We all need to enjoy every last minute of it! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  3. Beautiful! Just looking at that plate makes me so happy and that's even before a taste (and I am a huge roasted squash fan).

    Sounds like that weather system blew in to Ontario after it left SK. We had the tornado threat all day Friday, but managed to escape with just a few downed tree limbs.

  4. This sounds so tasty, I love a good kale salad. Especially when bacon and almonds are involved.

    I feel summer slipping away too! I'm looking forward to a few upcoming weekends out of town, but desperately working and baking and shooting to prepare for actually taking a weekend off!

  5. Gorgeous salad! Glad you dodged the tornado, even if all that work was for naught. Here's hoping you get a chance to dip your toes in a lake soon!

  6. Molly - the farmers market is so inspiring! one of these days I hope to see you some Sunday :)
    Donna - It's true. Every minute counts right now :)
    Jennifer - I heard about your big far we've been lucky! I love roasted squash too - there are yummy leftovers in my fridge right now :)
    Agi - thank you so much!
    Stephanie - I hope you get some time off too! Enjoy your weekends away!
    Shelley - thanks lady. I'm hoping for a little time off soon. Girl needs a rest!

  7. So, so pretty! AND GOOD FOR YOU!

    I love early mornings. You get so much more done before everyone else wakes up. And you see all the pretty stuff they miss...


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