Roasted squash is a hearty base for a cozy winter salad. Add roasted grapes, spicy pepitas and a maple-ginger red onion vinaigrette and this will become your default salad. Ginger and maple syrup is sprinkled throughout every element to add both warmth and spice. Also – even though this is technically a kale salad, the kale is pretty much a necessary backdrop, not the main show.
If you’ve never roasted grapes, you’ll become a devotee of the practice. Roasting brings out their sweet earthiness. I would recommend roasting twice as many grapes as you need for the salad – when you try just one out of the oven, you’ll know why 😉
Golden balsamic vinegar is one of my new favorite pantry staples. It has a mildly sweet and slightly tart flavor, with low acidity, and a light golden color. Golden balsamic vinegar has little in common with balsamic vinegar except it’s made with the same white trebbiano grapes; although depending on the brand, it might also be made from muscat grapes or even white grape must. Buying golden balsamic also won’t break the bank. Prices range from $4 to almost $20 (for Sparrow Lane brand from California) other brands include Pompeian, Star, Delallo, Colavita, Spectrum, and Acetaia Cattani. You can substitute white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, not regular balsamic, in this recipe.
This is an ideal salad for company – most components can be made up to a day ahead, including the roasted squash, grapes, and pepitas as well as the vinaigrette. Just massage the kale and add the various parts of the salad before serving.
Kale Salad with Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Grapes, Spicy Pepitas and Maple-Ginger Red Onion Vinaigrette
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash:
1 ½ lb butternut squash cut into ½” dice (about 1 ½ to 2 cups)
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl mix maple syrup, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. (*Place half of mixture in another small bowl for vinaigrette and set aside) To medium bowl with half of maple syrup and spice mixture add olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and toss with diced squash. Roast on parchment lined or lightly oiled baking sheet for 40-50 minutes or until softened and slightly caramelized.
Maple-Ginger Red Onion Vinaigrette
1 cup thinly sliced red onions – about 1 medium onion
*Reserved bowl with half of maple syrup and spice mixture
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs minced crystallized ginger
2 Tbs chopped parsley
Directions: Add 3 Tbs olive oil, 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar, and chopped parsley to maple syrup and spice mixture. Whisk until combined. Add onions and set aside.
2 cups fresh grapes
2 tsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix grapes, grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast on parchment lined or lightly oiled baking sheet for 30 to 25 minutes or until grapes are softened and browned in spots.
Roasted Sweet and Spicy Pepitas:
¼ cup pepitas (green hulled pumpkin seeds)
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
pinch grated nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In small bowl mix all ingredients well. Roast on parchment lined or lightly oiled baking sheet until slightly puffed and golden brown. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Pepitas tend to quickly go from underdone to overdone, so they need to be watched carefully.
Wash 1 small bunch young kale well and cut into 1” pieces to yield about 4 cups. With your hand gently massage 1 tsp olive oil into kale for 1 minute.
In large bowl mix maple roasted butternut squash, roasted grapes, roasted sweet and spicy pepitas, and kale with just enough maple-ginger red onion vinaigrette to coat ingredients.