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 ½-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ 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
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup wheat berries cooked according to package directions
- ¼ 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.
This post seriously cracked me up. I'm a vegetarian who believes in moderation in all things but I've definitely heard the "sugar is the devil!" quote thrown around quite a bit. Personally, I love everything about this salad. It pretty much seems like the best of all worlds.
It's kind of funny how vegetarians are the moderate ones now. For so long, people gave me the side-eye over having such a radical diet, and now I feel like I'm the one who's middle of the road.
Me and my husband are converting to vegans and are very excited about this lifestyle.
Kiersten, your salad looks so delicious! I am definitely going to make it for Thanksgiving. The only issue is that my sister-in-law is gluten intolerant, so I was wondering if you could recommend another grain that will complement this salad?
Thank you so much.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
It's hard to think of something that would match the texture of wheat berries, but I think wild rice would work well with the flavors in this salad. 🙂
There's so much truth in this post! It seems food has definitely become a controversial topic, with everyone throwing in their two cents worth. As for the recipe, this salad looks delicious (Especially the pomegranate seeds!). Cant wait to give it a try!
Yup, everyone is an expert on nutrition now, it seems! :/ I hope you like the salad if you make it!
Thank you! I made this with a few variations and loved it!
Kiersten Frase says
I'm glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Caroline Taylor says
I love the sound of this, sweet and citrusy.
Allen Neuhauser says
Thanks for good recipes
lisbeth | spoontang says
your photos are seriously gorgeous. i can't wait to give this recipe a whirl.
Kiersten Frase says
Thank you! I hope you enjoy the salad.
Ya really photos of recipe is really very gorgeous any one feel like to have this.
Finally, I found the perfect recipe for the squash that has been laying in my kitchen for a while already! Tomorrow he'll be gone once and for all. Great pictures by the way.
is the salad eaten while the squash is still warm or cold?
Kiersten Frase says
You could do it either way.
wow i love this recipe
Tim Hordo says
Can't wait to try this with my family at Christmas...also, "There’s a difference between being excited and passionate about the food you eat and being combative about it"...couldn't agree more!
Trena M minudri says
Been making this for a few years now. Its beautiful, delicious & healthy. My whole family loves it. Super easy & looks elegant