Kale and Squash Salad with Almond-Butter Vinaigrette
To create a creamy, indulgent salad dressing that's completely dairy-free, opt for almond butter as a substitute for olive oil. Almond butter infuses the dressing with a rich and savory depth, reminiscent of mild tahini or peanut butter. In this recipe, blend the almond butter with lemon and mustard to coat a medley of sturdy greens, roasted squash, and crisp apples.Feel free to customize it to your liking by adding salty cheeses such as blue, Gruyère, or pecorino, adding a burst of freshness with ingredients like fennel, parsley, mint, or pomegranate seeds, or adding substance with whole grains or beans. This satisfying salad is not only easy to take to work for lunch but also a delightful choice for dinner.
- 1.5 lbs winter squash, such as butternut or delicata, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces (peeling not required)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 crisp eating apples, like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp lemon zest and 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (equivalent to approximately 2 lemons)
- 1 large bunch of Tuscan kale or collard greens, about 1 pound, with the ribs removed and leaves thinly sliced (approximately 1/4 inch thick)
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 black pepper or red pepper flakes, with more to taste
- Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a sheet pan and toss the sliced squash with the olive oil, generously seasoning it with salt. Spread the squash in an even layer on the sheet pan and roast it on the lower rack until it becomes tender and gains a browned underside, which should take about 15 to 25 minutes. Once done, please remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly.
- While the squash is roasting, core the apples and slice them into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Combine the apples, shallot, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a spacious bowl. Add the kale leaves, season them generously with salt, and give everything a good toss. There's no need to squeeze the kale, as the leaves will naturally soften over time.
- Mix the lemon zest and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small bowl with the almond butter, Dijon mustard, and black pepper. Gradually stir in enough water to make the mixture pourable, usually around 1/4 cup (the consistency may thicken, but it will loosen up with the added water). Season the dressing with salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Once the roasted squash has cooled down enough to handle, add it to the bowl with the kale mixture. Drizzle most of the dressing over the salad. Toss everything together until well coated, adding more dressing as needed. Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings by adding more salt and pepper if desired. (To prepare in advance, store the dressing and salad separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Adjust the dressing's thickness and flavor with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then toss it with the salad when ready to serve.)