Squash, Quinoa & Kale Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

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This salad, aside from being delicious and delivering a burst of healthy energy, is very versatile. You can use delicata squash, butternut squash, or sweet potato. For the grain you could use millet, quinoa, farro or barley. For the dried fruit, cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, or cherries would be good. Though I love the toasted pepitas, you could use any nuts of your choice. For an easy lunch you can make everything ahead of time and then quickly assemble everything when you need it. I prefer to use Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or Dino kale) instead of curly kale, because it’s more tender and doesn’t need as long to tenderize in dressing. If you can find delicata squash, use it! It is easier to use because it has edible skin that doesn’t require peeling (unlike butternut) and it is easier to chop. I couldn’t find any on my last trip to the grocery so I used butternut (peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and cut into half moons). The lemon-tahini dressing is creamy, a bit tangy, and delicious. I will definitely be using it again and again.

slightly adapted from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook
serves: 3-4

2 delicata squash, or 1 butternut weighing 1 3/4 to 2 pounds, (peeled if using butternut) halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon grapeseed or melted coconut oil
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked millet or quinoa
1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, stacked and sliced into ribbons
1/2 cup diced red onions, left raw or roasted for deeper flavor
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons raw or toasted pepita seeds

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

1 large clove of garlic
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, or to taste
dash of toasted sesame oil

for the dressing

In a food processor, pulse the garlic to mince it. Add the tahini, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, oil, water, salt, and toasted sesame oil and process until smooth. If you make the dressing ahead of time it will thicken in the refrigerator, so be sure to thin it out with a little water before using.

for the salad

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Slice the squash crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces (they should be shaped like a U) and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle them with the oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and lay them in a single layer.

Roast the squash for about 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking time. The squash will be ready when golden and fork-tender.

Meanwhile, cook the millet or quinoa according to package instructions. Substituting vegetable stock for water is always a good flavor-enhancer.

Place the kale in a large bowl and spoon 2-4 tablespoons of the lemon-tahini dressing over the top. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands until all the leaves are coated. Let the kale sit on the counter for at least 10 minutes, so the dressing can soften the kale leaves.

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To assemble the salad, place the dressing-coated kale on a large serving plate. Spread the cooked grains over the top, followed by the onion, celery, parsley, roasted squash, cranberries, and pepita seeds. Drizzle with additional dressing.

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