Buttery sweet sunshine kabocha squash roasted in a wash of red pepper vinaigrette, together with vitamin-rich kale that’s been massaged with the same tangy dressing, this kale and sunshine kabocha squash salad pops with inviting color and extraordinary depth of flavor.
Almost as an afterthought, when I prepped the kale and squash, I decided to mix in some of my roasted red pepper vinaigrette. La-ti-da–what a way to bump up the flavor of a simple seasonal salad! Tamari-roasted pumpkin seeds accent with salty crunch, and healthy hemp hearts offer a final contrasting sparkle.
The roasted red pepper vinaigrette whips up quickly in a blender and is one of our favorites dressings. If have the dressing ready and waiting in the fridge, the salad is a cinch to pull together. If you make the vinaigrette special for this recipe, count on having some left for your next weekday salad!
Sunshine kabocha squash is a varietal of regular green kabocha. Known sometimes as Japanese pumpkin, sunshine kabocha has an exceptionally sweet buttery and nutty flavor—in fact, it was bred specifically for it’s sweet qualities.
Just like you do with delicata squash, you can leave the skin on kabocha squash, because the thin skin becomes tender and edible when cooked. What a bonus–no peeling necessary!
I learned that you don’t have to peel kabocha squash from Marcie at Flavor the Moments blog. In her recipe for Chorizo Black Bean Kabocha Squash Chili, Marcie teaches an easy and safe way to cut winter squash–using a paring knife. Simply poke a paring knife into the squash at its equator and slowly roll the squash away from you as you work the knife around.
If you are looking for a new and colorful Thanksgiving side dish, this autumn/winter salad is the one. Prepare it ahead of time and have it chilled in the fridge, or serve it slightly warm, mixing the goodies together as soon as the squash comes out of the oven.
Kale and Sunshine Kabocha Squash Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette notes:
- I used Lacinato kale, but any variety of kale is fine in this salad. If you want, use a pre-washed and pre-cut mixture of kale.
- Look for sunshine kabocha squash at farmer’s markets, or ask for it at your favorite specialty produce grocery store. If you can’t find sunshine kabocha, substitute roasted sweet potatoes instead.
- You might also like this recipe for Roasted Fall Vegetables and Tamari Tempeh.
Do you serve winter squash at your holiday table? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?
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- 1 Kabocha squash, cut in ½-inch cubes (3 to 4 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces Lacinato kale, washed, stems removed and discarded (see note)
- 1/3 cup Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup tamari roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the unpeeled squash into small (½-inch) cubes. Toss the squash in a bowl with the olive oil, honey, roasted red pepper vinaigrette, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast 35-45 minutes, until the squash is tender and golden on the edges. Set aside. (You will use 3 cups of the roasted squash, save the rest for something else.)
- Roughly chop the kale leaves into pieces about 1 ½- to 2-inch square. Toss in a bowl with the roasted red pepper vinaigrette and salt, and then, using your fingers, massage the kale for a minute or so. Toss in 3 cups of the roasted squash and most of the pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts. Be sure to offer extra roasted red pepper vinaigrette at the table.
I used Lacinato kale, but any variety of kale is fine in this salad. If you want, use a pre-washed and pre-cut mixture of kale.