RECIPE: Candied Pecan Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
One of the best things about cooking with Nutkrack and Firekracker is that your go-to healthy recipes (or new favorites line this one!) are not rendered useless when you add a touch of sweetness to them!
Nutkrack is one of the healthiest sweet and salty snacks or ingredients you will find. We all like to add a little extra crunch to our salads, as well as some richness to cut through the tart vinaigrette. Nutkrack does this and adds WAY less sugar into the mix
Remember, Nutkrack is only 7% sugar by weight, while most of the candied nuts on the market are over 50% sugar by weight!
Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Maple Sherry Vinaigrette and Nutkrack (or Firekracker)- this can be made as vegan if only oil is used
Makes an ample side dish for 6 people
For the Squash
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced in roughly ½” cubes. Don’t worry about making them look perfect. You should get between 4 and 6 cups of squash cubes
3 TBSP olive oil or melted butter (I prefer butter, but you can keep it vegan of you use oil).
½ tsp kosher salt
For the Quinoa
1 cup brown quinoa
½ tsp salt
2 cup water
For the Kale- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECE_OFlbHq0
About 20 large leaves of Lacinato kale, aka dino kale, stems removed, sliced thin (more about that below)
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch kosher salt
2 ounces-ish of Nutkrack or Firekracker (more of you would like!)
For the Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, peeled and diced fine
1 tsp Dijon style mustard
2 TBSP sherry vinegar
Pinch kosher salt
A little fresh ground pepper
2 TBSP maple syrup, more if you would like the vinaigrette a little sweeter
6 TBSP safflower, sunflower or canola oil (a neutral flavored oil is best here)
Method for the Squash
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss cubed squash with oil and salt. Lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in pre-heated oven until edges are brown and the squash is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool while prepping other ingredients.
Method for the Quinoa
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, toast the quinoa in the pan, stirring often, until it smells nice and aromatic and toasty. Add water and salt, stir and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20-30 minutes (this depends on the quinoa), just keep tasting it for doneness. Once cooked, spread out onto a plate to cool.
For the Kale- When cutting the kale, stack some of the leaves on top of each other and cut into thin strips (about 1/8” thick). Place in a bowl and toss with oil and salt. This will tenderize the kale over the next half and hour. You can do this up to 12 hours in advance.
For the Vinaigrette
I use an immersion blender, but this can easily be done in a small bowl. (If you want it really simple put everything in a jar with a good lid and just shake the heck out of it).
If using an immersion blender, place all ingredients except the oil in a container. With the immersion blender running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream until fully emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
To Assemble the salad
Toss the squash, quinoa, kale and dressing in a large-ish bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust if desired. Just before serving, add the Nutkrack or Firekracker over the top (don’t mix in to preserve the coating and crunchiness of the nuts). Serve right away.