The colors of this salad are a reflection of it’s bursting flavor. I always mourn the passing of tomato season, but this year I’m branching out to explore the deliciousness of fall/winter fruits and vegetables. I love the comforting flavors of caramelized butternut in a salad, and baby kale is the perfect complement because it’s a bit more sturdy than lettuce which gets weighed down under heavy ingredients.
Add some tangy, salty feta cheese, the sweet crunchiness of pomegranate seeds, and I’m pretty happy. The best part is the warm Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette that’s drizzled over the top. Bacon is great with everything I’ve ever tried, and the balsamic underscores the sweet notes of the butternut and pomegranate.
Baby kale isn’t as intense as you might think, in fact it’s quite mild and it makes really great green smoothies. I’ve been buying the pre-washed baby kale from the store, and it’s been the best thing for increasing the greens in my diet.
Peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1/2 inch slices.
Cut each round into 1/2 inch batons (sticks) and then cut crosswise to make 1/2 inch cubes. Place the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast it until it’s tender and the edges are caramelized. There’s plenty of time to finish the salad while the butternut’s roasting, I sometimes throw something on the grill for a heftier dinner.
Fill a serving bowl or individual salad plates with the baby kale.
De-seed the pomegranate and set aside. I’m adding a post about pomegranates soon for more detailed information about how to de-seed and use them.
For the warm Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette, sauté the chopped bacon in a cast iron pan for the best browning. Remove the bacon from the heat and let it cool for about 3 minutes. Then, whisk in the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients. The dressing can be made ahead, but it needs to be warmed when you’re ready to use it.
To finish the salad, arrange the butternut, feta, and pomegranate seeds over the baby kale. Drizzle with the warm bacon dressing and serve immediately.
I definitely recommend making a double batch of the bacon dressing and the roasted butternut squash. That way, you can assemble this salad in just a few minutes for a lunch or a quick addition to dinner on another night. Also, I see lots of bacon balsamic dressing in my future salad endeavors because it makes any salad totally addicting!
- 1½ pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ Teaspoon sea salt
- 6 ounces baby kale, washed
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 4 ounces bacon, 4 strips
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ Teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread the cubed butternut evenly over the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast until tender and caramelized, 25-30 minutes.
- While the squash is roasting, prepare the rest of the salad.
- Place the kale in a serving bowl or individual salad plates. Sprinkle the kale with crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds.
- Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Cut the bacon strips down the middle lengthwise, then cut crosswise to make bacon bits.
- Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes, (don’t drain the bacon, it’s part of the dressing). Add the minced garlic, stir to combine, and whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients.
- When the squash is done, arrange some on each prepared salad plate or toss as one big salad. Drizzle with the warm bacon dressing and serve immediately.
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