It has been 20 years now since I turned vegetarian and I can still remember my Mum's reaction when I told her my decision. “but you don’t eat vegetables - what are you going to eat?”. A very valid question at that time and the latter part of which I still get regularly asked!
Kale was certainly not a vegetable I remember enjoying as a child. “Curly Kale” made a regular appearance on the Sunday roast plate and whilst I don’t think I made a big fuss about eating it, it doesn’t stir nostalgic foodie memories like ‘the washing-up spud’. A cold roast potato split in two and smothered in salt and pepper for the children that helped to clean the kitchen after dinner. If I close my eyes I can still conjure up that taste : )
Funny then that I should be choosing a recipe in which kale plays the starring role. Well thankfully our tastes can change with age and now with the majority of my meals being plant based I like my vegetables to shine.
Plus making a decent kale salad feels a little bit like an initiation into the vegan club. Every blog and cookbook seems to have one and I like a challenge to see if I can improve on the recipes I try.
This recipe came about by accident really when using using some vegetables left over from the previous week. We had half a bag of kale left from our Sunday roast and a few other bits and pieces kicking about in the fridge. A flick through a few of my favourite cookbooks to check my flavour combinations and voila.
It has since been refined a little and I'm loving the change to purple kale. The dressing is beautifully smooth and creamy and has just the right balance of mustard heat and sweetness to compliment the other ingredients without being overpowering.
This is a great salad that can be prepared and ready to eat in just over 30 minutes. Once the initial chopping is done its a very low effort dish which tastes fantastic. I love the textures and the pecans add a wonderful crunch. Toasting them first really brings out their nutty flavour.
A perfect dish to serve as a lunch or light supper.
- 400g Kale. Washed and stalks removed, roughly chopped.
- 1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes.
- 400g cooked Chickpeas, rinsed. Tinned is fine.
- 150g Pecans.
- 200g Cherry Tomatoes, halved.
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil (or olive oil).
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil.
For the dressing
- 5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 tbsp Cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Honey (or agave for a vegan version)
- Salt and Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 180˚C
Firstly toast the pecans by spreading out on a baking sheet and toasting in the oven until lightly browned. Approx 6 mins. Take care not to burn them. Roughly chop and set aside.
Mix the cubed squash with the chickpeas and toss with melted coconut oil.
4. Place in the hot oven and roast until tender and the edges are browned, approx 30 mins.
Leave to cool a little.
Meanwhile heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and salute kale for a few minutes until warmed and just browning.
Arrange the kale in a large serving dish and top with the butternut squash, chickpeas, halved tomatoes and pecans.
To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together until well combined and season to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve on the side.