Roasted Pumpkin and Kale Salad
We’ve noticed in our recent weekly vegetable bags that tomatoes, peppers and zucchini have been superseded with winter squashes, cabbages and root vegetables. The delicate and sweet salad leaves have been replaced with hardy and sometimes bitter greens. I find this very exciting. I enjoy being presented with ingredients that invite exploration and a little disruption in our eating habits. We have our favourite dishes and ingredients and, unless prompted to change, we could easily go on as if there had been little difference in the seasons.
Now that the days are getting shorter and with the recent drop in temperature, Mrs Green has been a little averse to having salads every day. I initially found this change of heart difficult to adjust to as we have been enjoying a salad every day for quite a long time. So with a little compromise I thought to revise one of our earliest recipes, Deb’s Righteous Kale Salad, and see if I couldn’t sneak in a salad amongst the warmer dishes that we’ve been lunching on.
As mentioned in that previous post, kale is a very versatile and robust leafy green. It is a vegetable that gets tastier as the frost sets in and is a welcoming treat eaten raw during the colder months. I happened upon some purple kale at a local farmers market and Little Boy Green was excited at the prospect of eating some purple leaves, even if he would rather pass on eating them raw. But as with many habits, for better or worse, what our growing boys observe us do, they will most likely one day adopt.
Ever since we carved the pumpkin for Halloween, he has been intrigued by the assortment of squashes that we have acquired over the weeks. Unlike kale, which he thoroughly enjoys cooked, he has a very hard time with the textures of winter squashes and I am keen to see if I can’t change his mind.
I have a penchant for cumin, like a time-travel machine it takes me back to a place where I enjoyed a warm beverage seasoned with this comforting spice. In Damascus it is served in the colder months with the cooking liquor of broad beans, a dash of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice. But that is for another recipe. This time I use the spice to season some baked squash, crunchy chickpeas and tenderised kale. It is a different kind of comfort, but in the spirit of doing things a little differently, the addition of cumin adds some great flavour along with a dash of nostalgia.
There aren’t many components to this dish, which may make it appear modest, but this salad is full of flavour and satisfied us as a main. Using the oven and seasoning all of the components with the same mixture of cumin, olive oil and salt added to the ease of preparing it. We like the squash just out of the oven, but if you take it to work, allow it to come to room temperature or pop into the microwave for a minute before adding the crunchy chickpeas. Store the chickpeas in an airtight container so that they stay crunchy. The kale is tenderised with lemon juice, and - unlike many leafy greens - benefits from some marinating, so don’t worry if you have to prepare it in advance or if there are any leftovers, it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. I prefer to buy kale on the stem as the precut kale tends to also include the stalk which can be pretty chewy to eat raw. I am a fan of all kales and any would work well here, from cavolo nero to the humble green curly kale.
- 200g Kale
- 1 medium sized squash, we used Kuri
- 1 can chickpeas
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 3 tbsp cumin, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Preheat oven to 200C (400F)
- Drain the chickpeas and allow to dry in a colander
- Slice off the stem and a little off of the bottom of the squash so that it rests in place on the chopping.
- Cut the squash in half diagonally and scoop out and discard the inner membrane and seeds.
- Slice the squash into wedges roughly 2cm thick and place in a large mixing bowl with 1 tbsp each of the olive oil and cumin and 1/2 tsp of salt.
- Mix well to evenly coat the squash.
- Spread onto a silicone baking sheet or baking parchment and bake for 30 min.
- Toss the chickpeas in the same mixing bowl with 1 tbsp each of the olive oil and cumin and 1/2 tsp of salt. Coat them well, spread them on onto a silicone baking sheet or baking parchment and bake for 30 min. (along with the squash)
- Meanwhile, tear the kale off of the stalks into bite sized pieces and place into the same mixing bowl as above with 2 tbsp of olive oil, juice of half a lemon and 1/2 tsp of salt and gently rub the ingredients into the kale tenderising it as you do. The kale should be about half of the volume it was and will have turned a darker colour. Allow to rest and marinate until the squash and chickpeas have baked and cooled to the touch.
- Serve the kale on large plates and top with the squash and finally the chickpeas.