Winter Squash Salad with Basil, Kale + Tomato Chili Oil
Well, if you couldn’t tell by the name of it, this dish a literal MOUTHFUL. I call this my “sassy squash” salad because it totally has an attitude: it’s spicy, sweet, earthy, salty, nutty and just overall surprisingly flavorful. However, I wasn’t going to name it Sassy Squash in my blog post title because I don’t think the word “sassy” makes anyone hungry. So, here we are. This winter squash salad with basil, kale and tomato chili oil will 100% exceed your winter squash expectations. You can use any kind of nutty winter squash (acorn squash, kabocha or butternut,) however I went with a kabocha. I roasted it until caramelized and tender and I also roasted the seeds to use for topping, because food waste is not cool. Then, I paired the squash with a spicy basil, fresh kale and a homemade, SUPER EASY, tomato chili oil. And that’s it. That’s the dish. You can serve it as a side, a veggie base for a protein, or with a fried egg. In this case, I topped it with some pan-seared halloumi because you guys know I love the creamy, saltiness of halloumi with a hint of sweetness and spice (cue my pumpkin spice halloumi recipe from last fall)
SQUASHES THAT ARE STARCHY DO WORK HERE:
SQUASHES WITH HIGHER WATER CONTENT DON’T WORK HERE:
- Spaghetti Squash
- Summer Squash
Another example of when I paired a rich, nutty squash with brighter flavors is when I made my steak with chimichurri and a bright, zesty squash side salad. I made that dish during the seasonal transition from summer to autumn, and I’m making this one during that winter to spring transition. The difference here is that this recipe is much more spicy and well-rounded. You can enjoy this during any time of the year, not just during the warm seasons.
Full tutorial (including searing the halloumi) is above. The recipe below is for the squash salad without the halloumi. It’s really funny because “halloumi” has autocorrected to helium every single time when writing this post, so if there are any typos in here that I didn’t catch that are suggesting you sear helium, please do not do that.
|2 1/2 cups kabocha squash|
|3cups raw kale leaves|
|1/3cup fresh basil leaves|
|Tomato Chili Oil|
|1tbsp tomato paste|
|1/4cup olive oil|
|1tsp chili flakes|
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the tomato chili oil ingredients in a mason jar or bowl and shake or whisk to thoroughly combine. Let the oil infuse as you finish the dish.
Cut the kabocha squash into quarters and remove the seeds if you haven't done it already.
Wash and drain the seeds, separating them from the stringy, sticky interior of the squash.
Toss the seeds in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, if using. Spread the seeds evenly on a sheet pan and roast for 7 minutes. Remove the seeds from the oven once they are golden brown and crispy. Once the seeds are removed, adjust the oven temp to 475 degrees F.
While the seeds are roasting, peel the squash with a knife or peeler. Then, cut the squash into small 1-inch(ish) cubes. If using kabocha, you can roast it with the skin on.
Toss the squash cubes in a bowl with about 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the squash onto a sheet pan, making sure that no pieces are overlapping and that it's not overcrowded. Roast the squash for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and tender. If the squash isn't golden brown after 20 minutes, keep going for another 5-10 minutes and check on the squash frequently so it does not burn. If necessary, roast the squash on two sheet pans.
While the squash is roasting, combine the basil and kale in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt to season the greens and toss until fully coated.