Butternut Squash & Kale Caesar Salad

Butternut Squash & Kale Caesar Salad

26 shows up in the middle of coffee one morning and hands you a freshly printed memo that reads: “You’re going to get old one day and die. You’re cool for now, but it will happen. You’re officially on notice. You won’t be young forever.” And then 26 struts out of your office, like an unconcerned dick, having nonchalantly just changed your entire perspective. - Jessica Blankenship

I tucked that quote away into my Evernote earlier this year. It didn't resonate with me in that moment, but my 26th birthday was around the corner so I packed it where I could find it just in case. For the first time in my life, I feel my age. 

By this I do not mean that I literally feel age in my body: while I have aches and pains I do not feel 26 years weighing in my knees. I am reminded of this when we climb and I drop from the top of a bouldering wall--my knees bend and pillow my fall without complaint. But I feel 26 in my mind. (Or debatably 25.5, if you want to split hairs). 

An old soul by nature, this is a new feeling. At sixteen I felt eighteen, and at eighteen the youngest friend I hung out with regularly with twenty-two. When twenty-three came I accidentally told someone I was twenty-five (an earnest mistake). This has been a life long theme.

But twenty-six arrived last month without much warning. Twenty-six? I'm not twenty-six, am I? Twenty-six. It's not old. But my years have, perhaps, finally caught up with my soul. It's gone both ways I believe: the years have grown shorter all the while my heart has grown younger, freer, looser. 

But, enough about me and onto today’s creative creation:

Butternut Squash & Kale Caesar Salad

Butternut Squash & Kale Caesar Salad

This salad is designed for the months when farmers markets are less plentiful, and the sun stays behind the clouds. Butternut squash and dino kale are good all year long, and it uses both liberally. An when you're feeling like you need a pick me up, this salad will do the trick. 

It’s heathful and cheesy, at the SAME TIME. That’s why everyone loves caesar salad anyways, right? This caesar salad variation is EXTRA everything, because:

  • We’re using kale instead of romaine. Read: extra flavor, extra crunch, and yes — extra nutrients. Romain is mostly water 😉 (It’s also great, but I’m rooting for kale today)

  • Butternut squash cubes (roasted, golden) are swapped for croutons. I KNOW some people will think this is a tragedy, but I FREAKIN’ LOVE squash, and double love it when it’s roasted. And by making this simple swap you’ve made a salad that’s “clean,” gluten-free/grain-free, and seasonal. Win, win, win!

  • Homemade dressing. This is the extra mile that makes a difference when it comes to flavor. If you have store-bought dressing and are in a rush — go for it. But if you’re feel up for a few extra minutes, you will be rewarded by making your own dressing! Caesar dressing traditionally have sardines in it. Personally, I prefer a mellower flavor, so I use a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. It’s also way easier to keep on hand!

  • Parmesan!! You can’t make a caesar without this key ingredient. It goes into both the dressing and the salad.

Butternut Squash & Dinosaur Kale Caesar Salad

Published October 3, 2017 by
   |     Print This Recipe

Serves: 1-2   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



Ingredients:

    For the Salad:
  • 1 pound diced butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale, stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated parmesan

  • For the Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use this brand)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (according to your tastes)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Spread cubed butternut squash out on a sheet pan, and drizzle with avocado oil. Stir until each piece is until coated in oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place in oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until squash is golden on edges and tender through. Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  2. While the squash cooks, prep the kale and salad dressing. First, chop the kale into bite sized pieces and place in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and add 1/8 teaspoon salt. Then, rub the kale with your fingers until it is tender and bright green (This makes it easier to eat and digest the kale raw). Set bowl aside.
  3. Make the dressing: combine all ingredients for dressing, and whisk until creamy. Pour dressing over kale, and toss kale until evening coated in the dressing. Then, plate the kale on serving plates. Top with parmesan and roasted butternut squash. Serve.

Butternut & Kale Caesar Salad
Comment

Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil

Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil

La Casa de la Abuela is a restaurant with weathered wood tables and a big covered patio. It sits on the main road of La Union, a small town that doesn't even leave a mark on the Google Map of Ecuador. There, in that little town, I experienced the best meal I ate in Ecuador, despite the road noise.

One of the first things that was brought to the table was sliced fresh tomatoes with basil and a drizzle of garlicky, herby oil. There was something about that oil that made those tomatoes shine! Next arrival to the table was a big bowl of seemed muscles and clams, without a doubt freshly caught that morning. We drizzled the same garlic oil over each clam shell in delight. Was it the clams that were stellar or just the oil? Or both? 

Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil
Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil

We took turns guessing how they made the oil, until finally the owner and chef came to the table, bearing a jar full of the stuff, and the list of the ingredients. 

Just garlic, parsley, and red chiles in olive oil will give you a taste of that night in Ecuador. Drizzle it freely over seafood, dress a caprese salad, use it to make a salad dressing, or drip your favorite bread into it. 🤤

Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil

Ecuadorian Garlic-Chile Dipping Oil

Published August 8, 2017 by
   |     Print This Recipe

Yields: 1 cup   |    Total Time: 15 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresno chile (in Ecuador, they would use a small red chile called Pico de Pájaro, but I am unable to find that locally)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Mince garlic, fresno chile and parsley and place in jar.
  2. Add salt and oil, to jar. Allow to sit covered, in fridge, for 24 hours so that the flavors seep into the oil.
  3. Use as a drizzle or dipping oil.

Comment

Easy Food Processor Pesto

After posting my eleventh recipe that called for pesto to this blog (Pesto Zoodles with Fresh Peas and Bacon), I decided it was high time I actually post a recipe for pesto itself. Watch below or click here to watch the recipe video! Scroll past the video for some images and the full recipe. 

Pesto is a glorious, glorious thing. Ancient Romans were on to something when they started mashing herbs with garlic, cheese and oil. Can you imagine being the chef to first pull out your moral and pestle, fill it with herbs and nuts, only to yield a greenish glop that looks unlike any other sauce you'd seen? And then the first bite! What do you think they thought?

Easy Food Processor Pesto

Of course, times have since changed dramatically. Basil wasn't the star of pesto sauce until 1863 (according to Wiki), and wasn't even popular in the US until the 1980s and 1990s. Which, I suppose, explains a lot: as a 90s kid, I was set up to love pesto from the beginning. And now here I am, making pesto in a food processor. (Many will tell you this is not the traditional way, and they are right: in ancient Rome they didn't have food processors... or electricity. This food processor method is the 21st century way. I've made many a batch of pesto in a mortar and pestle, but for a big batch, I always go for the food processor). 

When I have a fresh batch of pesto in the fridge, I fearless add it to every meal. A condiment for potatoes (a sauce for sweet potatoes, or just a dip for some roasted yukon golds). The creamy base for this chicken dish. Shmeared inside of a cheesy omelette. I even put the stuff straight on steamed broccoli, or stir a tablespoon of pesto with a tablespoon of lemon juice to make a vinaigrette. You get the picture. 

Easy Food Processor Pesto
Easy Food Processor Pesto

Easy Food Processor Pesto

Published July 11, 2017 by
   |     Print This Recipe

Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 10 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pulse garlic in food processor with salt until minced.
  2. Add pine nuts to food processor, and pulse three times. Add parmesan and lemon zest to food processor, and pulse until a meal forms.
  3. Add basil and oil to the food processor and pulse until the basil and minced evenly. Scrape the sides with a spatula and pulse again briefly.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use. Will last up to 1 week in the fridge.

FOR NUT-FREE: Substitute 1/4 cup sunflower seeds for 1/4 cup pine nuts.

FOR DAIRY-FREE: Substitute 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for 1/2 cup parmesan.

Easy Food Processor Pesto
Comment