Think of this as a warm autumn salad….the kind of salad that will warm up a certain housemate who is from Florida and thinks 48 degrees is about all the cold she can handle. I created this salad not only to warm her up, but give her happy thoughts about fall in New York.
Shhhh….I can’t even bear to tell her what January will be like….
Warm Kale-Butternut Salad (serves 4-6)
Don’t overcook the squash here…you don’t want it turning to mush in the salad. If you can’t find ricotta salata (fresh ricotta that has been salted, pressed and dried), you can use shaved pecorino or parmesan. But try to find the ricotta salata….its salty, nutty flavor goes really well with this salad. Good quality aged balsamic vinegar is important as well. Don’t get hung up on the size of the squash or bunch of kale….just adjust the amount of oil and vinegar if needed.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 pounds)
1 large bunch kale, torn into large bite-sized pieces, thick parts of stem discarded
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds (I use whole raw almonds, toasted in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup ricota salata, coarsely grated
2-4 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar for drizzling over salad
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Toss butternut squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on cookie sheet and roast until “al dente”….cooked through but not mushy….about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan (I use a large Le Creuset pan, you will need it to fit the kale, which shrinks a lot when sautéed). Cook over medium heat until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add kale, onions and raisins and sauté until kale is just wilting, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and gently toss in roasted squash, chopped almonds and final tablespoon olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and top with grated ricotta salata. Serve immediately.