Kale salads aren't just healthy, they're downright addictive.
Easy Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut & Strawberries is the result of a befuddling assortment in the crisper drawer at present, as I am chock full of winter squashes still, but yearning to add fresh spring berries and herbs. So, the inventiveness of this salad is that it combines a healthy bit of two seasons and is unexpectedly filling as a main dish salad at that. I devoured this Easy Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut & Strawberries salad two nights in a row. I did not have trouble with the pickiest of family acting as tasters either. Even my men were willing participants of this magnificent farmers market plate.
Homemade cider, basil and Feta dressing knocked this appetizing garden fresh jumble out of the park.
Kale makes an ideal prep-ahead salad and sandwich greenery because of its ability to hold up like a champion in the refrigerator. It stays crisp without wilting long past its leafy counterparts. I opted for baby kale, still quite sturdy, and combined it with an equal amount of leaf lettuce, some handfuls of roasted butternut squash, slices of fresh sweet strawberries, crumbled Feta cheese, some dried cranberries, and a homemade creamy cider, basil and Feta dressing that knocked my appetizing jumble out of the park.
Massaging kale? YES!
The key to a good kale salad is taking an extra minute or two to massage the kale and soften it. Awkward sounding? Yes. Essential to soft, delicious greens? Yes. And it’s so easy. After washing and drying your kale, remove the ribs/stem from each kale leaf. Tear or chop the kale into bite-sized pieces or if using baby kale, toss into the bowl whole. Toss the kale with a little salt and oil and rub it in for a minute with your fingertips until the kale turns nice and soft and darkens slightly. A massaged kale salad tastes a million times better, and I personally wouldn’t prep kale any other way. Entirely worth it.
The unexpected flavor of basil, dominant in the creamy cider basil dressing, I think is what makes this salad a winner. It compliments EVERYTHING else introduced in this healthy dish.
The reason Easy Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut & Strawberries works so well for my family, is due in part to my making a point of tossing the combined leaf lettuce and massaged kale with a scant amount of my homemade creamy cider and basil dressing. I then plate the lightly dressed greens and then sprinkle and scatter the remaining tasty mix-ins. I also roast the butternut squash until it is semi crisp like a crouton, and I only slice the ripest of strawberries I can find. This salad gets served table-side and I provide additional dressing for each person to add their own. The unexpected flavor of basil, dominant in the creamy cider basil dressing, I think is what makes this salad a winner. It compliments EVERYTHING else introduced in this healthy dish.
Easy Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut and Strawberries
1/2 lb strawberries, cleaned and sliced
3 cups leaf lettuce washed and torn
3 cups baby kale, washed and stems removed
1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons good quality olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with one tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Turn out onto the foil-lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 12 minutes before turning. Roast an additional 10 minutes, turn again, and ultimately a final 10 minutes until somewhat crispy but not burned. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet.
Wipe the bowl with a paper towel and add the cleaned and prepared kale. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt to the leaves. Using your hands, massage the leaves with your fingertips until both sides of all of the leaves are moistened and darkened in color. Add the prepared leaf lettuce and toss all gently. Lastly, add about two tablespoons of the Cider, basil & Feta dressing and toss gently so that all leaves are lightly coated with the dressing. Plate the greens on a platter.
Scatter the roasted butternut squash cubes, the sliced strawberries, chopped green onions, dried cranberries, and crumbled Feta cheese atop the greens. If desired, drizzle additional dressing atop the salad, otherwise serve additional dressing on the side.