Maybe I’m just noticing this because I’m a food blogger, but it seems like people are more obnoxious than ever about food. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years now and I think the last time I was pushy about it was when I was 15. I don’t try to convert people; I don’t rant on Facebook about how much better my diet is than everyone else’s or post pictures of everything I eat followed by an endless string of hashtags. I don’t make a big deal about it because I’ve learned a lot since those days when I was obnoxious and 15, and I know now that making a big deal about it only makes me look like a jerk and it makes people want to do the opposite of whatever it is I’m doing. There’s a difference between being excited and passionate about the food you eat and being combative about it. What 15-year-old me didn’t realize and 32-year-old me does is that being combative and uppity and self-righteous is an exhausting way to go through life.
I started thinking about all of this because, in coming up with recipe ideas for a vegetarian Thanksgiving, I thought about how food should bring people together, but more and more, it seems to be a source of conflict. There are a whole lot of obnoxious 15-year-olds at the dinner table now and they all want to remind you that if you eat a piece of bread, you’re going to get diabetes; if you put (delicious mushroom!) gravy on your mashed potatoes, you’ll have a heart attack, also, why are you eating mashed potatoes because you should never eat anything white ever. Oh, what’s that? You believe in moderation? MODERATION WILL KILL YOU!
So here’s a salad for you. It starts with a bed of massaged kale leaves and it’s topped with roasted delicata squash, pepitas, wheat berries, and pomegranate seeds, then drizzled with a sweet Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette (and if you want, you can make it spicy with a pinch or two of cayenne!). It would be right at home on your table for Thanksgiving, but it makes a good weeknight dinner salad too. Maybe even a post-Thanksgiving detox salad after you’ve stuffed yourself silly with pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes?
It’s a delicious salad, but I’m sure some people will be upset that I put wheat berries in it. And maybe other people will be bothered by the maple syrup in the vinaigrette. Maybe you don’t eat fruit because anything sweet is of the devil. But that’s okay, because then there’s more for me.
- 1 medium delicata squash seeded, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice about 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup use Grade B if you have it
- Zest from 1 orange
- A pinch or two of cayenne pepper optional
- 2 bunches kale leaves about 1 pound, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup wheat berries cooked according to package directions
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Toss the delicata squash with a tablespoon of olive oil and transfer it to a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender and just beginning to brown.
- While the squash is cooking, whisk together the remaining olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, maple syrup, orange zest, and cayenne pepper (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the kale leaves in a large bowl and massage them until they're wilted and the bitterness is gone. Transfer the kale leaves to a large serving platter. Top with the squash, pomegranate seeds, wheat berries, and pepitas. Serve with the vinaigrette.