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Delicata Squash and Kale Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette

Kale and Delicata Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette Recipe

Kale and Delicata Squash Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette
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!

Pomegranate Seeds
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.

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Kale and Delicata Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette

Kale and Delicata Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette Recipe

Massaged kale leaves topped with roasted delicata squash, pomegranate seeds, wheat berries, and pepitas. Perfect for Thanksgiving!

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings as a main dish, 6-8 servings as a side 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ΒΊF.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Notes

If you’ve never massaged kale before, here’s an article on how to do it.

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109 Comments

  • Reply
    Grace @ Earthy Feast
    November 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    This is a salad for celebrating food – so pretty and festive and perfect for thanksgiving!
    P.S. You know those foody snobs are binging on Ben & Jerry’s when no one’s looking! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      I sure hope so! Because I feel really sad for people who never allow themselves sweets and desserts ever. Maybe that’s why they’re so cranky? πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    ashley - Baker by Nature
    November 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    This salad is g-g-gorgeous!!!! I know it would be a hit on any Thanksgiving table.

  • Reply
    Jessica @ conveganence
    November 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    This salad is absolutely breathtaking. Not sure if that’s a good word to describe a salad, but it applies here!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Thank you! I piled everything on top and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t look like a mess. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Amy - From the Ground Up Wellness
    November 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    This looks so yummy!

    I am with you – and everyone who has commented – about the snobbery. It’s one thing to know what works for your unique body and to speak about that with enthusiasm, passion, and even awe; it’s entirely another to be righteous, elitist, or downright mean. That isn’t helping anyone’s cause.

    Keeping our conversations around food focused on health, bio-individuality, and enjoying what we eat is essential to working in line with the idea of whole life wellness (and that includes some indulgence sometimes!).

    Keep on fighting the good fight, lady. Your recipes are awesome.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Yes, exactly! I completely respect that what works for one person might not work for another. But it seems like an increasing number of people are certain that their way is the only way and if you choose to eat differently, they are relentless.

      • Reply
        Amy - From the Ground Up Wellness
        November 5, 2013 at 11:02 pm

        Yup – absolutely. The argument just isn’t worth it!

        Anne Marie Colbin writes in ‘Food and Healing’ that the impact of certain foods on a person can be so subtle that the person is the only one who can tell whether or not it’s a good choice for them. So Righteous Eater X can yell and yell and yell, and never actually know if what they’re saying will work for the person they’re yelling at.

        Too much negativity for something that’s supposed to be kind of fun, hey?

  • Reply
    Holly
    November 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I branched out and brought kale home from the grocery store. The only thing I’ve ever done with it is make baked kale chips– your “massaging” idea caught my attention. I am going to click through to get more details. Beautiful salad and photo too! Wish I had all these ingredients at home and it would be dinner tonight. Might have to improvise, thanks for the ideas!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      I like kale steamed and sauteed, but in a salad, I like it massaged. Otherwise, the flavor is just too strong for me!

  • Reply
    Emma
    November 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Totally agree! I’m vegan which obviously makes me a little difficult but am so for ethical reasons so as long as there are no animal products I’ll eat anything- from salad to sugary cookies- moderation is definitely the key! It’s hard not to be affected at times by all the voices screaming at us from all angles- wheat is bad for you, fruit is bad for you, grains are bad for you, peanut butter is bad for you! I do what makes me feel good and hope other people can make their own food. decisions for the same reasons.

    The salad looks fantastic! I’m perfectly happy with wheatberries, maple syrup and fruit πŸ˜€

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Yes, and it seems like the things one side says are bad for us, the other side says are good for us! It can be really confusing and overwhelming. That’s why I just eat a little bit of everything, to hedge my bets. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    November 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Gorgeous salad & I say ba humbug to all those foodie snobs! I only tell my hubby & kids what to eat πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Well, you are actually qualified to tell people what to eat! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving
    November 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Ha! People are too serious about their diets. It looks yummy!

  • Reply
    Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
    November 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I don’t think I know any people who act how you described -thankfully! – but I know what you mean. I don’t think anyone would complain about having this gorgeous salad put in front of them though!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      You are lucky! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Anna {Herbivore Triathlete}
    November 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    This salad is beautiful and so festive looking! I love all the ingredients, especially the wheatberries πŸ˜‰ Like Emma said, I am vegan, but will eat pretty much anything. I love food, I don’t love following food “rules”.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Aren’t wheat berries amazing?! I love throwing them in salads. πŸ™‚ I eat the same way–other than meat, I eat a little bit of everything.

  • Reply
    Julia | JuliasAlbum.com
    November 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    What a gorgeous salad! And I love all the colors in it and the seasonal ingredients you’re using. Yum! Pinned!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks for the pin! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Ash-foodfashionparty
    November 4, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    If salad can look this beautiful and taste this good, I’ll go for it everytime. Beautiful dish for the coming holidays.

  • Reply
    Miss @ MIss in the Kitchen
    November 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    What a gorgeous salad! Just perfect for Thanksgiving.
    PS. If sweets are are of the devil, I’m headed straight for hades!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Ha! Me too. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    November 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Beautiful salad, I love the colorful toppers!

  • Reply
    Sarah H.
    November 5, 2013 at 12:45 am

    So agree with you. I’ve been vegan for about 3 years now, for my health and trying to beat my family’s history of high cholesterol and diabetes, but I try to bring one or two sides to family dinners that I know I can have as a main meal and others can have as a side or not. I don’t like having my husband’s mom fuss over that she forgot to make something that I could eat too. I figure she’s busy enough making the big main meals, I can bring things that add a little different flavor and some variety to the rest of the meal.
    It’s hard in my husbands family because it seems that there are a ton of different allergies as well as different diets. Some are paleo, others are allergic to dairy, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts, berries. I love my mother in law, I know I’d go crazy trying to find a meal that everyone could eat. I’d just tell everyone, especially at thanksgiving, it’s a potluck, bring what you can eat and some to share.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      I think that’s the best way to do it! Because when you follow a special diet, sometimes your host doesn’t know what you can and cannot eat and it can be an awkward situation for everyone involved.

  • Reply
    Shirley
    November 5, 2013 at 1:37 am

    This is beautiful! And looks like a great way to lighten up Thanksgiving dinner. That’s another thing I want to try, delicata squash. I’ve been eating butternut and acorn lately, but I haven’t gotten around to trying those unfamiliar varieties. Usually I’m rushing through the store and I get curious, then I remember I have no time and I should stick to what I know for tonight.

    I can’t stand people being preachy about food! I get tired of being told nobody should eat gluten, ever, or that cooking oils should never be heated. I’ll give up some of my lifespan to enjoy good bread and pasta, and to be able to saute and roast things. And they might choke if I mention my junkier indulgences. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      I think the flavor of delicata is pretty similar to acorn. πŸ™‚ But it’s so much prettier! I will never give up bread or pasta or roasting either. If you eat well most of the time, I think you deserve to indulge a little bit! I honestly feel sorry for people who really believe that they’re going to get some terrible disease if they eat a brownie once in a while.

  • Reply
    Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast today
    November 5, 2013 at 3:54 am

    it looks beautiful! I would have a dilemma if I should eat it or look at it πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      You can look at it, THEN eat it. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Ashley
    November 5, 2013 at 7:06 am

    haha oh man, I completely agree with you. People have gotten really pushy about food. One of my husband’s co-workers went off the last time I saw him about how the desserts I share on the blog are going to kill me because of the white flour (of all things right, no mention of the sugar or butter). Do you really think I eat them all myself??? Moderation people. I wanted to smack him. Mind you said person was eating one of my treats when they said this. Obnoxious : ) But this salad sounds delicious!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      Oh man, I get that on my blog too sometimes! Whenever I use white bread, white tortillas, etc., I just brace myself for the inevitable comment about it. And yes, they seem to assume that if we post something on our blog once, that must mean that we just subsist on those things entirely. :/

      • Reply
        Liz
        November 6, 2013 at 7:13 am

        Do people really comment about THAT?! Sheesh! I don’t really eat white flour products so when I see them in a recipe, I just sub out there whole grain counterparts; I don’t write a diatribe to the chef. !! Is it SO hard to make your own personal subs without opening your mouth? If you don’t eat something, don’t eat it!

        • Reply
          Kiersten
          November 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

          Oh yeah, definitely. And I’m the same way–if a recipe isn’t the way I want it to be, I change it. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to complain about it.

  • Reply
    skoraq cooks
    November 6, 2013 at 3:06 am

    You’re absolutely right. Being pushy about food choices is great while being a teenager, but only as an social experiment. When one’s a grownup it’s time to grow up and realize that everyone has a freedom to choose one’s lifestyle. After seeing too much of vegan propaganda I’m trying to change my diet into vegan, but that does not mean that I am to force anyone to do the same. And your salad looks really delciious and I like colours too. I am sooo making this salad πŸ™‚ Have a nice day Kiersten

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Good luck going vegan! I am almost vegan myself, but I still have a few non-vegan meals a week. But I figure it’s better than nothing!

  • Reply
    Emma
    November 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Looks amazing! And I just wanted to say those pink ombre salad servers= so cute! Gorgeous presentation with all the colours!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you! I was so excited to finally have a reason to use them. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    annette
    November 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Exactly! So happy to have found your website! I have been a vegetarian for over 30years now since becoming one at about 23yrs of age. I try to just be me… I enjoying shopping for my food, cooking it, lovingly offering with gratitude delicious preparations to the Creator/God and then relishing it alone or with family & friends. If co-workers or acquaintances sincerely want to know more I let them know kindly in my own passionate way, if they start challenging me I start quoting….lol…we all have to make our own choices and take responsibility for them. Food is for survival & also for lovingly sharing & enjoying! Bon Apetit!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Yes, I don’t like being challenged about my food either! I have made informed decisions about the way I want to eat and I don’t like when people don’t respect that.

  • Reply
    brandy
    November 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    As coincidental as it may seem, I have all of those ingredients on hand…guess I know what’s for dinner tomorrow πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Lisa Frank
    November 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    This is such a gorgeous salad! My extended family is trying something new this year for Thanksgiving–vegan and gluten free for the majority of the dishes, since there are many people attending who have food allergies. This will be a new one for me! I’m so glad there are blogs like yours as a resource for those of us who are new to vegan cuisine.

    I’m posting a Thanksgiving recipe round-up tomorrow and I’d love to feature a photo and recipe link of this salad! I read your policy about it being okay to use one photo, but please let me know if you’d prefer I did not use one.

    Thanks much!
    Lisa πŸ™‚
    [email protected]

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Yes, you are definitely welcome to post the photo in your round-up. Thanks for the feature! πŸ™‚ And good luck with the Thanksgiving planning too!

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    November 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I could swear that I posted a comment on this delicious recipe. Seems missing ;D

  • Reply
    Genevieve
    November 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    This is such a pretty and colourful salad! I love adding maple syrup to dressings, and I think the maple-orange combo sounds perfect to go with the squash. It’s pretty hard to please everyone with a dish, but as long as some people enjoy it (or even just you), then that should be all that matters!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      I love a little sweetness in my salad dressings too. πŸ™‚ I don’t like them too acidic!

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