One of the keys to improving your health in my view is to find tasty ways of eating healthy foods. This really ticks this box and is a great way to get plenty of kale into you (trust me).
A superfood kale and butternut squash salad
Kale is extremely nutritious and is considered a “superfood”. This is a term used to describe foods that are especially high in nutrients. Kale is a member of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables, the same as cabbage and Brussels sprouts. As well as being a rich source of phytonutrients, kale is also high in the minerals calcium and iron and vitamins C and K. It also contains a host of other nutrients that help to prevent disease. Kale is also considered a low oxalate vegetable. Oxalates found in higher amounts in vegetables such as spinach can reduce the absorption rates of certain minerals. The calcium absorption from kale for example was found to be 30% higher than that of milk.
Butternut squash is also a nutritious vegetable (well technically a fruit but no need to go there) being low in calories at only around 40 calories per 100g. It provides plenty of fibre and useful amounts of several vitamins and minerals including being particularly high in vitamin A.
Pan fried kale, roast squash and roast pecans
The preparation method for the kale is to strip it from the stalks, chop it up and then to fry it on a dry hot pan for a couple of minutes. This helps to wilt the kale and create an almost crisp texture to the salad. This kale and butternut squash salad uses Cavolo nero kale. Also known as black cabbage, or black kale, it has more slender, darker, glossier leaves than curly kale. If you can’t find get hold of it, you can also use curly kale for the recipe. The butternut squash is roasted in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes until soft all the way through and just starting to brown. The broken pecan pieces are added to the oven for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Roasted nuts really bring an amazing flavour to a salad in my view.
For another salad that tastes awesome with roasted nuts, you may like to try my Seriously Good Quinoa Salad with Almonds
Orange and Tahini Dressing
The orange and tahini dressing really finishes off this salad nicely. I vowed to make dressings with fresh orange juice more often after tasting how good this dressing was with kale and butternut squash salad. You can simply add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar, cover with a lid and then shake vigorously for a few seconds to make this dressing. If you don’t have a jar with a lid you can simply whisk all of the salad ingredients together in a bowl until smooth.
You can also experiment with the dressings for this salad. I made it before without any dressing and it still tastes great. It also tastes lovely with my tahini lemon dressing
Kale and Sulforaphane
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and contains a phytonutrient called sulforaphane. This has been linked to many health benefits and is thought to be protective against cancer. Sulforaphane is activated when glucoraphanin contained in cruciferous vegetables comes into contact with the enzyme myrosinase. They are separated in the plant and this happens with the cells of the plant are broken through chopping or chewing. Cooking destroys myrosinase, blocking the conversion process so its better to eat cruciferous vegetables raw or lightly cooked, in order to get the health benefits from the sulforaphane. If you would like to learn more about sulforaphane, you can click on the following link here
Super Kale and Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries
- 300 g Cavolo nero kale washed, stems removed and chopped roughly
- 1 small butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
- 40 g dried cranberries
- 40 g pecans chopped into pieces
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 a teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of orange juice
- 1 taplespoon of tahini
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and cinnamon together. Add the butternut squash cubes and mix well until they are evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet on a tray in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are soft all the way through and starting to brown.
- Put a dry pan on a medium/high heat and add the kale leaves, around 100g at a time. Toss them around every minute or so for about 3-4 minutes in total until they decrease in size and start to wilt. Remove from heat and pour into a salad bowl. Repeat with each batch of kale.
- Roughly chop the pecans and place them on a tray in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until they start to darken and become fragrant. (be careful not to burn)
- Add the kale to a salad bowl and top with the butternut squash. Sprinkle in the roasted pecans and dried cranberries.
- Add all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together with a fork until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to mix everything together.