While cooking, listen to this: New Light by John Mayer
When I lived in Jerusalem (OH MY GOD YOU LIVED IN JERUSALEM YOU NEVER TALK ABOUT IT), I was invited to a friend’s for Shabbat lunch and was tasked with making a side dish. I decided to explore my horizons and make something I’d never made before, and for some reason settled on mashed butternut squash with feta and pomegranate seeds.
Which like, sounded delicious.
But boy was it a mess.
First of all, I went to the store and bought what I thought was squash. It said squash in Hebrew on the packaging and it definitely looked like squash from the onset. When I brought it home and opened it up though, it smelled like melon. To this day I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but the following thoughts went through my head, in no particular order:
“Wow, my Hebrew is not nearly as good as I thought.”
“What the fuck am I going to do with all of this melon?”
I ended up needing three separate people to corroborate that what I had bought was indeed squash, albeit a melon-y batch. It ended up being squash, so I still have no idea if roasted melon is remotely appetizing and I’m glad I don’t. All of that being said, it was off to a rocky start.
Then. Then! I roasted and mashed it, then cooled it a bit and added the feta and the pomegranate seeds. Turns out, feta doesn’t like being mashed into warm butternut squash. Something I wished I had known before I had done such a thing. I was left with a soupy mess - it was pretty damn tasty, but it was just like, so fucking weird. Learned my lesson on that one.
When Alyssa told me she had an absurd amount of CSA produce that included a butternut squash, I knew my moment of redemption had come. I decided to turn my sad side into a happy salad, and it worked! Roasted butternut squash, feta and pomegranate seeds actually totally get along when they’re on a bed of kale with some roasted walnuts and a mustard-y dressing. Problem solved.
This salad is ideal for fall, when you want to eat roasted vegetables but it still feels like summer out (IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE 81 IN THE CITY TODAY HOW). This salad is also great for post-Yom Kippur, an ideal time for light but filling salads after a long fast, or for Sukkot - you can decorate your sukkah with your squash and eat it too!
For those fasting or commemorating Yom Kippur in any way, Gmar Chatima Tova, may you have a good seal in the book of life. And for all, a very happy, very warm, Tuesday.
Love and meows, Rina
ROASTED BUTTERNUT, FETA + POMEGRANATE KALE SALAD
Yield: 4 servings (or 2 meal servings)
Active Time: 10m (15m if you’re deseeding your own pomegranate) | Inactive Time: 30m
Category: Salads, Gluten-Free, Fall
1 medium butternut squash
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
¼-⅓ balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Honey (optional, may not need)
¾ cup walnuts
10 ounces kale
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½-1 cup pomegranate seeds*
4-6 ounces feta, crumbled
*If you’re deseeding your own pomegranate, an easy way to do it is to cut the pomegranate into quarters and remove the seeds in a large bowl filled with water. The pulpy bits will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Skim the bits off the top and drain the seeds.
Preheat the oven: 400F.
Prepare the butternut squash: cut the ends off of the squash and peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife. Cut the round part of the squash off and split in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits (apparently you can roast the seeds and make a snack out of them, but I’ve never tried it before.) Split the tubular part of the squash as well and cube all of the chunks into bite-size-ish pieces.
Roast the squash: toss the butternut squash in some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on an unlined baking sheet for 20 minutes. Flip the squash with a spatula and roast for another 10 or so minutes, until the squash is beginning to caramelize but doesn’t get too soft. Allow to cool.
Roast the walnuts: lower the oven temperature to 350F and roast the walnuts on a dry baking tray for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown but nowhere near burnt. Allow to cool slightly, then roughly chop.
Make the dressing: in a jar or other container combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and, if using, honey. Shake well to combine and emulsify.
Massage the kale: raw kale tastes infinitely better when it gets a bit of a massage. So fucking weird, but it’s true. Massage the kale with some olive oil, salt and pepper. It’ll make a huge difference.
Assemble! in a large bowl combine the kale, squash, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and feta. Dress when you’re ready to serve, then dig in.
To keep: the squash will keep well on its own for a few days in the fridge. Assemble and dress the salad only when you’re ready to eat it.