This colorful kale salad features butternut squash, pomegranate, quinoa, and a simple, homemade za’atar dressing that gives the whole thing a punch of delicious, Mediterranean flavor.
The holidays are all about indulgence, so if you’re going to throw a kale salad into the mix, it’d better be a good one.
Za’atar is a Mediterranean spice blend from the Middle East region. It’s made with a mix of herbs and spices, including dried hyssop leaves, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. Some grocery stores carry it, or you can order it on Amazon. Bon Appétit also published a tutorial on making your own za’atar blend. (Like harissa, each mix will be a little different.)
One nice thing about this recipe is that you can make a good portion of it in advance. Roast the squash, cook the quinoa, and whisk together the dressing a couple days ahead of time if you want. Then you only need to mix together each component and add the kale and fruit. Easy.
Here’s proof kale salad deserves a spot on your holiday table. Who would’ve thought?
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash (1 medium)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups torn kale (5 leaves, I used red kale)
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (½ medium fruit)
- 1 sliced apple (see note)
- 1 sliced pear (see note)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons za’atar spice
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet large enough to fit squash in a single layer. Combine cubed butternut squash, oil, and salt and pepper, spread on baking sheet, and place on center rack of oven. Roast 25 minutes, or until a fork pierces through squash easily.
- In the meantime, cook quinoa. Combine quinoa, ½ cup water, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat, drain excess liquid (if any), fluff with a fork, and set aside.
- Whisk together extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, za’atar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Add torn kale leaves to a large bowl and use your hands to massage (similar to how you’d knead dough) 3 minutes, or until kale softens. (This makes it taste sweeter and more tender.)
- Remove cooked squash from oven and transfer to bowl with kale. Stir in cooked quinoa and pomegranate arils (reserve some for sprinkling over top of salad if desired). Add apple and pear slices, pour dressing over top, and lightly toss until salad is evenly coated.
Slice apples and pears just before serving. Drizzle with lemon juice if desired to prevent browning.
Roasted squash, quinoa, and dressing may be prepared up to two days in advance.