Warm Kale Salad with Citrus and Spice Roasted Kabocha Squash and Fennel

I crave a salad of this nature-sturdy greens with warm roasted vegetables-at least once a week in the fall and winter.  Here is one of my favorite variations so far.

Notes:

If you’re making this in advance, instead of blanching the kale, you can just toss the raw kale with all of the other ingredients, then warming the prepared salad in a pan as you need it.

I don’t add extra oil to the salad, as I think the oil from the roasted vegetables provides enough when mixed with the kale.  Of course, this is my preference and you can add more oil if you feel it needs it.

The fresh cranberries add a nice touch of bitterness that offsets the sweetness of the kabocha and orange.  If you don’t like bitter, feel free to omit the fresh cranberries or toss in some dried cranberries (which are usually sweetened) at the end.

I sometimes add rainbow chard stems to the roasting vegetables, as they get nice and tender when roasted and I’ve always got chard stems on hand.

Warm Kale Salad with Citrus and Spice Roasted Kabocha Squash and Fennel

Serves 3-4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

For roasting:

1/2 kabocha squash, deseeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 head fennel, halved lengthwise and cut into wedges with core in tact

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

heaping 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

pinch salt, preferably flaky sea salt

about 3 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to coat the vegetables well)

For the salad:

1 bunch purple kale, stems removed and leaves cut into chunks

1 cara cara or navel orange

black pepper and salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds or poppy seeds

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

crumbled feta, to serve

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Combine roasting ingredients and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until vegetables browned and tender.

While the vegetables roast, place kale in a large strainer and pour boiling water over to soften.  Allow to drain fully and place in a large bowl.  (See note above if making in advance.)  Zest the orange over the kale.

Remove remaining peel of the orange with a knife.  Cut orange into segments and add to kale.  Toss with salt, nigella or sesame seeds, and vinegar.

When the kabocha and fennel are roasted, remove from oven promptly and add to kale.

Taste and adjust for salt, vinegar, and oil.  Serve warm.

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