Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Raw Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Delicata Squash

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Delicata Squash and Other Delicious Things

I’ve been infatuated lately with raw kale salads.  I know, it sounds a little hippy-ish!  And maybe that’s so, but it’s also incredibly delicious.  Thin ribbons of crunchy, deep green kale, hearty and fresh and just a little bitter, tossed with a flavorful mix of mustardy vinaigrette and all sorts of other tasty things.  I tell you, salads don’t get any tastier than this!  Especially this time of year, when sturdy kale is at it’s fall best.

Scooping Squash Seeds

I posted a raw kale salad recipe last year, for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  The tasty additions that time round included golden raisins, sweet slices of Vidalia onions, Parmesan cheese and toasted Hazelnuts.  Oh yes, and a mustard-malt vinaigrette.  Oh man, I just loved that salad. Check it out.  It was one of my favorite posts all year. 

This time, I combined the thinly sliced kale with raw Brussels sprout leaves, roasted Delicata squash, toasted pine nuts, plumped raisins and ribbons of Parmesan, then tossed them all together in a rosemary-Sherry vinaigrette.  The combination was totally delicious, and a perfect distillation of fall.  But honestly, you can top these kale salads with anything under the sun.  My main goal today is to try and get you to make a raw kale salad of any sort.  Follow my recipe to the letter, or just take the kale and run.  Have fun with it.  The extras are up to you.  And don’t worry my friends, you truly can’t go wrong here! 

Kale & Brussels Sprouts

Delicata Squash

But while I’ve got your ear, let me dwell a while on one particular salad addition of mine, the Delicata squash.  I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve cooked with this particular gourd.  I’ve seen it all over the place, and always pass it up for Butternut or Acorn or Spaghetti squash.  But I’d heard recently that the skin was edible.  Delicata… ah delicate!  With skin delicate enough to eat.  How convenient, I thought, and how pretty on a salad.  And so I had to give it a try.  And, is it any surprise… it was wonderful!  I mean, what winter squash isn’t?!  Buttery and sweet and deeply satisfying, very similar to Butternut, but perhaps a little milder.  And just as promised, the skin was no hindrance at all.  Oh wow, I love a new culinary discovery!

Duo of Salad Greens

Delicata with Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

One last thought:  These kale salads are great all on their own, as a separate salad course.  But they’re super great too, served as a side dish.  I made this one last night with pan-roasted chicken breasts.  It was hearty enough, and so chock-full of other good things, that it was the only side I needed for this weeknight meal.  I really hope you all give this kale salad thing a try.  It will certainly help make for a very tasty fall and winter! 

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

Raw Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Delicata Squash
Makes 4 big salads
This recipe calls for Lacinato kale, also called Tuscan or Dinosaur kale.  It is a special dark green variety, with long, thin, bumpy leaves.  If you can find this at a nearby store, I definitely recommend it.  If not, I’m sure a nice, crisp bunch of regular kale should work too.  Just make sure to slice it very thinly. 
Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Delicata Squash and Other Good Things
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 Tablespoons Sherry vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable or canola or grapeseed oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the rest of the salad:
2 Delicata squash
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches Lacinato kale
about 8 heads Brussels spouts
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup raisins
2 to 3 ounce block Parmesan cheese
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To make the vinaigrette:  Combine the minced garlic, mustard, rosemary, vinegar, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk together, then slowly pour in the olive oil, then the vegetable oil, both in a thin stream and whisking as you pour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  This can be made ahead and refrigerated for bout 4 to 5 days in an airtight container until needed.
To roast the squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F, and arrange an oven rack in the middle position.  Line one baking sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. 
Slice the squash in half length-wise, the using a spoon, scoop out the seeds.  Slice into 1/2-inch wide half-moons.  (No need to peel!  It is so delicate, you can eat that too!)  In a small mixing bowl, toss the sliced squash with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer over the prepared pan, and roast until tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes.  Cool to room temperature and set aside.
Roasted Delicata Squash
To prep the kale: Working with 3-4 leaves at a time, and cutting straight across the  width of the leaves, slice the kale into thin ribbons of about 1/8-inch thick.  Slice from the tops of the leaves to within about an inch of the base of the leaves, discarding the tough, wide stem area at the bottom.  Wash the ribbons of kale in cool water, then spin dry.  Set aside.
To prep the Brussels sprouts:  Working with one sprout at a time, slice across the stem, at the base of the sprout – this will loosen the outer leaves attached to the lower stem.  Peel off and discard any tough and discolored outer leaves.  Reserve the un-blemished, tender leaves.  Then repeat, slicing across the base of the sprout, a little further up, to loosen another layer of leaves.  Peel off the leaves and reserve.  Continue this slicing and peeling, until you’ve separated the entire sprout into single leaves.  Repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts.  Set aside.
To toast the pine nuts: Spread the raw pine nuts on a parchment- or foil-lined sheet tray and roast in a 350°F oven until toasted and aromatic, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Be sure to check every few minutes or so, and give the pan a little shake when you check.  Cool to room temperature and set aside. 
To prep the rest:  Soak the raisins in a large bowl of very hot water for about 15 minutes.  This should plump them up and make them juicy.  Drain them well and set aside. 
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into thin ribbons, and set aside. 
To assemble the salad:  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced kale and Brussels sprout leaves with most of the prepared squash, pine nuts, raisins and Parmesan.  (I say most of the squash, pine nuts, etc. because you’ll want to keep a little bit left over to top the salads on the plates.  It’s always nice to have some of the pretty stuff right on top.)  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the ingredients in the large bowl.  (You more than likely won’t need to use all the vinaigrette.  Just save it for another salad.)  Season with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Toss to coat thoroughly, and place onto salad plates.  Garnish the plates with the rest of the squash, pine nuts, raisins and Parmesan.  Serve. 
One of the great things about kale, is that it’s such a hearty green, it keeps for a while without getting soggy like other salad greens.  The same with the Brussels sprout leaves.  This salad can easily last at least a day in the fridge without loosing its structure.  It won’t be exactly as crisp, but it will definitely still be darn tasty!


  1. Um, YUM! Looks a bit like the kale salad we do at Mercato, but kicked up with squash, brussels, and a totally flavorful dressing!

  2. EAC... You know what!? Mercato was the first place I'd ever had a kale salad like this! About three years ago for Ben's birthday! It was just the thin kale ribbons with a great vinaigrette. Absolute perfections. I've been obsessed ever since! I am definitely eating at Mercato when I come visit in January!