You're one bite away from craving this delicious, colorful Kale Salad. With a fresh strawberry vinaigrette and a plethora of complimentary toppings, it's an ode to the spectacular cuisine of California.
In a blender, add strawberries, vinegar, sugar, and dried mustard. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil.
Season to taste with salt (I like /14 teaspoon). You should have about 1 cup dressing (cover and refrigerate until serving time).
To make the salad:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For easy cleanup, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, add diced butternut squash. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Roast until tender and caramelizing on the edges, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon. Cook until tender and starting to crisp along the edges, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
In a large bowl, add kale and drizzle with the strawberry vinaigrette. Using your hands, toss until evenly coated, massaging the kale as you do. Transfer the dressed kale to a serving bowl or divide among individual plates.
Sprinkle with butternut squash, walnuts, bacon, cranberries, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds.
Honey: Honey makes for a sweeter vinaigrette than if you used sugar; either works well here. For either sweetener, start with 1 tablespoon (or less) and add more to taste.
Butternut squash: Or sweet potato, buttercup squash, acorn squash; essentially any sturdy winter vegetable will roast up beautifully to complement the kale salad. Having tiny, uniform cubes of roasted butternut squash makes this salad better.
Kale: More proof that this is a versatile salad recipe: Any kale works here! Choose common curly, Lacinato (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur kale), red or Redbor, or Siberian kale. Just be sure to remove the woody stems before tearing the leafy greens into bite-size pieces.
Bacon: No need to cook the 4 strips in advance. I explain how to fry the bacon in a skillet in the instructions below as the rest of the kale salad comes together. I suggest cutting the bacon to be the same size as the squash (or even slightly larger) so the bacon doesn't fry into tiny crumbs and get lost.
Feta cheese: Crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese also works.
Yield: This Kale Salad recipe makes four 2-cup servings, ideal for a light lunch or hearty dinner side dish.
Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because of the kale in this salad, it holds up really well under refrigeration.
Make ahead: Blend the strawberry vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. You can also roast the butternut squash, cook the bacon, and toast the walnuts in advance. Allow the ingredients to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before assembling the salad.