(Note: this post was originally published on November 24, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Happy harvest season and happy holiday season! Isn't this a gorgeous salad?? I think fall vegetables and fruits are so incredibly beautiful. Of course they can yield all sorts of delicious cooked dishes, but in my opinion they're at their most gorgeous in a raw (or primarily raw), straightforward preparation like this.
This salad really has it all: tender massaged kale, bitter radicchio, sweet roasty squash, tart cranberries, juicy pomegranate arils, and chewy dried figs. It's a symphony of fall flavors and a rainbow of fall colors. This is definitely THE salad to make for all your fall and holiday occasions this year!
Apple cider is the central theme of this salad, and it comes into play in two different important ways. First, the dressing is a cider reduction, yielding the most wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity. The squash is also roasted in cider. Apple cider is such a wonderful fall treat, and it's so fun to use in non-obvious ways.
The main secret to this salad is massaging the kale. Yes, this is non-negotiable, it needs a massage! This helps break down the fibrous leaves, making them tender and more able to absorb the flavorful dressing. I promise that this is a surefire way to help kale skeptics fall in love with this delightful leafy green.
Let's talk about some modifications! I love this salad so darn much, so I'll happily take any excuse to make it again and again and again, albeit with different twists.
If you want to make this into a main course, add your protein of choice; I think some crunchy, roasted chick peas would be perfect. I've also made this salad with some chewy farro tossed in and it's wonderful. You could make it on a bed of quinoa or serve it with crusty bread. Oooo or even cornbread! You could also amp it up with some cheese (I'd use feta!) and/or some nuts (pecans or walnuts would be lovely, as would pepitas).
Fortunately, this salad is quite make-ahead friendly, which is always such a relief during the holidays. You can do almost all of the work ahead of time except for the final assembly! The dressing can easily be made up to a week ahead. You can cut and clean the kale, roast the squash, and clean the pomegranate the day before. You can even let the kale marinate in the dressing for a few hours, so don't hesitate to do that the morning of and let it sit in the fridge. Just make sure to assemble everything right before serving so that the other ingredients don't get soggy.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
I often make huge, harvest-y fall salads, but I designed this one in particular for a squash-themed potluck in late October. This potluck has been a yearly ritual among some of my Vermont friends for a long time. It was originally a Pumpkin Potluck, although this year it evolved into a Squash Supper in order to include more types of fall produce. There were all sorts of creations including pumpkin lentil soup, a squash and apple bake, pumpkin cornbread, a pumpkin mousse tart, pumpkin sugar cookies... and of course this squashy salad!
I hope you'll give this salad a place at your own fall celebrations or at the Thanksgiving table! It's an eye-catching dish, and will be a much-appreciated fresh, light element among all the other heavier fare. But this salad is also humble enough (and easy enough) to make for a quick fall dinner.
Happy harvest season! Let's celebrate all these beautiful gifts from nature!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
This fall-themed salad celebrates the harvest season in all its bounty. A wonderfully flavorful reduced apple cider vinaigrette unites hearty kale, cozy squash, and sweet fall fruits to yield the perfect holiday salad.