This salad is hearty and full of the flavors of fall. It’s bold, delicious, and nutrient dense– the only kind of dense that is really acceptable. It would be a great side for Thanksgiving, and it’s even vegan (!!), so if you have a veggie relative or friend they will give you heart eyes for remembering them with this one.
It does take a bit of preparing, but with just a little prep you can knock it out of the park in an instant when you throw this together later. The kale holds up well to dressing, so you can actually keep this post-dressing in the fridge for lunch the next day, too (although I think it is better the first day).
You will need:
For the salad:
- 1 small Butternut Squash
- 1 1/2 T chili powder
- 1 1/2 T cinnamon
- 2 t nutmeg
- 1 T salt
- olive oil
- 1 bunch Kale
- 1 C dried cranberries
- 1/2 C pepitas
- 1 C dried farro
- 1 shallot
- 1 small bunch sage (about 3 branches)
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown or dijon mustard
- a few twists of ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Peel and de-seed the butternut squash. Usually it’s easiest to cut off the base so you have a flat surface, then chop the peel off with a knife. Chop the squash into 1/2″ cubes. Toss the little orange squares with the spices, then with olive oil. Yours will look a little spicier than mine; I didn’t use enough of the spices, so I upped the ante in the recipe for you.
Scatter on a rimmed sheet pan and pop into the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, toss the squash cubes and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the cubes are getting lightly browned and are nice and squishy. Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the pan.
Rinse the farro. Add it to a pot with 3 C water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. Test the farro at 30 minutes; if it’s done, drain it, then spread it on a sheet pan (your squash pan is fine) to let it dry out a bit.
Measure the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid. Put the lid on the jar and SHAKE IT UP!
Chop up your kale: cut out about the bottom third of the ribs, then slice the leaves into 1/2″ ribbons. Then add the kale, cranberries, pepitas, squash cubes, and farro to a large bowl.
Finely slice the shallot and the sage. Pour enough olive oil into a small pan to cover the bottom and turn the heat on to high. Add the shallot. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, then carefully toss the shallots with a fork. They should start to brown really quickly. As soon as they start to brown, quickly fish them out with your fork and let them drain/cool on a paper towel. Throw the sage in, let it cook for about 10 seconds (it will rapidly fizzle and shrink), then fish it all out and drain it on the paper towel, too.
As it is, you can refrigerate the dressing and salad separately (and leave the shallot and sage in an airtight container on the counter) until you’re ready to serve them. When you’re ready, toss the salad with the dressing and garnish the top with the fried shallot and sage.
The bite of kale and pepitas, the chew of sweet cranberries, the warm spice of the squash and crispy sage, the hearty farro and tangy cider all come together to make this salad all of the flavors of autumn in one bowl.