Winter Squash Salad with Kale
Full disclosure: I am obsessed with this salad. I started making it a week or so ago and have now eaten it almost every day. It is that good. (And super-healthy and dinner-party beautiful!) It was inspired by a salad I ate last winter at Emporio, a great Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. I loved their combination of kale, roasted winter squash, pomegranate seeds and Pecorino shavings and figured it would be easy enough to recreate at home. As it turned out, it was (with a few tweaks of course!). Between the squash roasting and the ingredient prepping, it is a little bit time consuming, but the end result is well worth the effort.[recipe:best-roasted-squash-kale-pine-nuts-pomegranate-seeds-recipe]
This salad is a perfect canvas to experiment with different types of winter squash. I used acorn and Delicata squash the other day, but you could really use any type–butternut or Kabocha would also be nice. The acorn squash skins are particularly tough so I'd recommend roasting them in halves, and cutting them into smaller pieces after they are baked. The Delicata have thinner (edible) skins, so I went ahead and cut them into half-moon pieces before roasting them.
While your squash is roasting, you can prep all your other ingredients: clean and chop the kale, remove the pomegranate seeds (see below for tips on how to do this), toast the pine nuts, make the vinaigrette, and shave the Parmesan. I love to serve this buffet-style on a big platter and let guests serve themselves, but you could also serve this on individual plates as a beautiful first course.
The gorgeous colors in the dish, and the sweet/salty/earthy flavor combinations, make it an ideal side dish for the holidays. I plan on serving it next Thursday as a welcome healthy addition to the Thanksgiving spread!