Kale and Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Thyme Balsamic Dressing

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I’m still riding the kale wave!

There was no way I was going to let that beautiful bunch of fresh, leftover kale from yesterday’s recipe sit in the refrigerator today. Nope. I made myself and my family some kale and roasted pumpkin salad with thyme balsamic dressing; healthy, delicious and absolutely seasonal.

Salad is one thing I make well, I love a good salad and so does my mom so to us a well made salad is a treat! Some may think that salads are the ABCs of cooking and little effort is needed in order to have a great salad and it is true that they are easy to make but it’s pretty important to put effort into getting really good ingredients. Think about it, a salad is almost always a fresh, uncooked meal with or without cooked elements, that means your greens and veges better be on point!

If you’ve read my previous blog, you’ll know I picked up my kale from the supermarket and made sure it was fresh. Search for kale at farmer’s markets or from farmers in your area. Make sure the leaves are dark and bright coloured, not yellow and limp. There are a few different varieties of kale here on the island, any will work great for this recipe. The kale is the backbone of this salad so make sure it’s the best kale you can find. Oh, and you’ll need to massage your kale with a tablespoon of the dressing.

Here in Jamaica you can actually get pumpkin all year round, I mean they practically grow like weeds, even on sidewalks but they seem to be in their prime in autumn so there’s just no better time to eat some pumpkin. I love roasted pumpkin! Especially when it is well seasoned and a bit charred! Roasting pumpkin brings out an underlined sweet flavour that you just can’t get if you boil, saute, fry or do really anything else to it. It was made for roasting.

To make sure your pumpkin is perfect, just ask your Jamaican grandmother to pick out the right one (they always seem to know the ‘good’ pumpkins by just looking), but if you don’t have a Jamaican grandmother, choose a firm but fit pumpkin that has a beautiful deep yellow orange colour; test the colour and ‘fitness’ by chipping a small piece of the skin away, if it chips off without too much effort and has a good, bright colour, it is the pumpkin for you.

Kale and roasted pumpkin weren’t the only ingredients in this salad; I also added corn because it also is made for roasting. I roasted mine on the stove top over direct fire, it made for smoky, soft kernels that went great with the kale. Of course, you can grill your corn as well but I went the easier route cause salads are easy right.

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Our corn came from our neighbour who has the huge farm and they were a small variety but still yummers. When you are picking out corn for this salad, choose the firm ones that are still soft. They’ll give you the best texture.

Toasted pumpkin seeds were just a ‘no brainer’ for this salad; I had pumpkin and I had the seeds from that pumpkin, it seemed only logical to add them to this salad. I did a half and half, half whole pumpkin seeds and half shelled. I thought that the difference in texture and taste would be interested and it certainly showed how the same ingredient can taste and feel different. I added a few other elements to this salad like red bell peppers (sweet peppers) which were super fresh and sweet.

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Quinoa, which I felt like adding just for some extra vitamins and protein is not affordable for the average Jamaican so don’t feel obligated to go out and get it. Eliminate it completely or substitute it with something else. That being said, if you can get your hands on some, add it, it’s one of those magic foods and is actually considered to be a complete protein which is huge for those plant based foods.

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Be careful not to overload your salad with condiments, when you think that’s just the right amount of corn or quinoa, take some out cause it’s probably too much. Too many condiments leaves your salad unbalanced in flavour and texture.

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The dressing makes this salad. It’s thyme+honey+balsamic vinegar+salt and pepper+extra virgin olive oil; it equals to a dressing you wanna gulp down like it’s lemonade on a hot summer day. I muddled the thyme and salt together in my trusty pestle and mortar, squeezed in the honey, mixed that, then added the vinegar and pepper, mixed it up and really went to town mixing while I poured the oil in. It was thick, sweet, tangy, mind-boggling good, should I go on? You get the idea. Although this dressing is the bomb diggity, don’t drench your salad in it unless you want soggy kale and un-crisped veges.

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Fresh ingredients= great salad. Follow my tips and you’ll be on your way to having the best salad of your life! If you want the recipe for this Kale and Roasted Pumpkin Salad with thyme balsamic dressing, scroll down.

And don’t be shy, drop me a comment if you like this recipe or tried out this salad.

Kale and Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Thyme Balsamic Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

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A great dinner salad, packed with vitamins and protein and yes, it’s so yum!

 

INGREDIENTS

4.4 oz pumpkin, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil

1 corn on the cob, roasted or grilled

1 cup cooked quinoa (see package for cooking instructions)

1 1/2 tablespoons unshelled pumpkin seeds, toasted

1 1/2 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted

1 medium red bell pepper (sweet pepper), sliced

1/4 cup raisins

8.5 oz kale, washed and torn into pieces (just the leaves)

Dressing

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

a pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

a little shy of 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl sprinkle the sliced pumpkin with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss.
  3. In a parchment paper lined sheet pan, lay out the pumpkin slices and roast until the pumpkin is soft and a bit charred. Set aside.
  4. Cut the kernels off the roasted corn and set aside.
  5. Remove thyme leaves and discard stems.
  6. Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender and blending until thick, it’s done when no oil sits on top. Or muddle the thyme and salt using a pestle a mortar, add the honey and mix. Then pour in the balsamic vinegar and the black pepper, mix and start pouring the oil in slowly (while still mixing) to form an emulsion (fats and liquids coming together). When the dressing is thick and the oil is blended in, taste and season with salt as needed.
  7. Pour 1 tablespoon of dressing over the kale in a bowl. Massage the dressing into the kale until the kale turns bright green and feels a bit soft.
  8. Add all ingredients to the bowl with the kale and toss. Pour dressing as desired.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you shine today!heart

 

2 thoughts on “Kale and Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Thyme Balsamic Dressing

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