This is a wonderful warming and unique winter salad that will fill you up and make you feel oh so good for your day. I like to roast a bunch of squash or different kinds of vegetables all in one go, and then have them on hand to throw together salads like this. It might look like a number of steps in the recipe below, but if you do this once a week, then many of these components can be re-used and re-created into new and different meals all week long.
Cook once, and assemble several interesting, delicious and good-for-you meals. That’s what makes life simpler mentally, and is good for your physical health too.
If you roast some of this delicata squash, you can use some to make soup, add to a risotto, serve as a side to chicken or fish, or use in any variety of salads. I’m sure there are so many other ways to use it too! Let me know in the comments what dishes you like to make with it. I hope you love the recipe below.
Feel free to play around with the spices in this dish and change out the rosemary. Moroccan spice blends also go great with the squash and lentil combination. Yum!
Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa
Yields: 6 hearty salads
1 bunch kale, you want about 8 cups of torn leaves (Lacinato or curly leaf)
½ – ¾ cups walnuts
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoon safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil
1 small/medium delicata squash
1 cup dried lentils
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 cup dry quinoa
6-8 ounces feta cheese (optional)
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Toasted delicata squash seeds for garnish
½ cup Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut off the stem of the delicata squash and then slice it down the middle longways. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place squash guts and seeds in a colander to rinse under water so you can separate the seeds. Save the seeds for toasting later. There is no need to peel the delicata, as you can eat the peel. Remove the seeds and separate from the strings. Discard the strings/guts and compost if you have access to compost. * Now slice each of the sides of delicata squash into ½ inch half moons. Place the half moons in a bowl and coat with the safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. You can add dried or fresh rosemary or thyme if you’d like.
Once coated, place squash half moons on baking sheet and spread them out so they don’t touch too much. This helps them caramelize better. Roast for about 15-25 minutes, or until pieces are golden brown and cooked to your liking. A fork will go easily through the pieces. Check them after 15 minutes, and according to how hot your oven runs. Flip them at 15 minutes so they cook evenly.
While squash is roasting, rinse and dry the squash seeds. Coat with a bit of the sunflower or other oil, salt and pepper to your taste. You can always adjust the flavor of these with spice blends of your choice. Spread seeds evenly on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes. Check at 5 minutes if your oven runs hot. Flip or toss with a wooden spoon if needed. They’re toasted when lightly golden brown, but watch them because they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and set aside on a plate to stop them from cooking further.
Prepare the quinoa and lentils according to package directions. It’s best to rinse quinoa and to cook it with 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry quinoa. Lentils can be cooked to your liking. I prefer them still with a tiny bit of firmness.
*See instructions below.
Hold the stem of the kale and use your other hand to pull the leaf from the stem. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. You can save the stems to compost them, or freeze in a sealed bag to make vegetable broth later.
Place the leaves in a large salad bowl. Coat with olive oil and massage the kale leaves with your hands, crushing the leaves and massaging the oil into the leaves well. This breaks down the cellulose and makes the kale much more palatable.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts to the dry pan and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until barely golden brown and fragrant. Turn off the heat and set aside. Add walnuts, raisins, lentils, and quinoa to the kale and toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust dressing. Add black pepper, toasted squash seeds, and feta cheese if desired and enjoy!
Any extra quinoa and/or lentils can be saved and used for other meals.
If making salads for 2-3 days of lunches, follow these directions:
Tear the leaves and massage with oil. Then add to your meal prep containers. Add the walnuts and raisins to the salad. Put cooked quinoa and lentils on the side or in a separate compartment from the salad.
The morning you are going to eat your salad you can combine the quinoa and lentils with the rest of the ingredients.
Take the vinaigrette and optional feta in small containers with you to lunch and dress your salad with a few tablespoons when ready to eat. Enjoy a hearty lunch or dinner!
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette
Yields: 1 cup vinaigrette
Serves: Covers about 10-12 salads.
2 large lemons
⅔ cup olive oil
½ small shallot (optional)
1 or 2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
3 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard (optional)
¼ cup parsley leaves
½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
Mince garlic cloves. Remove the parsley stems and save for stock. Rough chop the parsley.
Roll lemons under your forearm to release juices before slicing in half. [Tip: Zest them first if you need zest for another recipe. Can keep in a small amount of oil in the fridge for a week or so until use.]
Juice lemons and add to small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to emulsify. Taste with a lettuce leaf and adjust ingredients to your taste.
Label and date before refrigeration.
Empowered Kitchen Tip:
I recommend doubling this recipe so you always have a stock of it in your refrigerator.