Hello, Darlings! It’s been a while…life has had me spinning for the last month or so. So many birthdays to celebrate, house projects, the beginning of Spring… you know, there’s something about the start of a new season; especially, Spring. It’s usually so full of life and happiness and I am so grateful for the end of the cold and gray season. Yaaaay.
Anyway, I may have promised this post to my Instagram friends some weeks ago, and then I broke it. I’m a bad human, I know. But now I’m heeeere…and better late than never, right? Even if the only person who really cares is nobody, but me. Alright, enough already. Let us talk beets. 😉
Beets were probably the hardest vegetable for me to fall in love with. The earthiness…I always felt like I was eating, well, dirt. I could palate them in a juice with pineapple. Lots of pineapple, but eating them raw or in a soup even, was a bit more difficult to swallow. Mmmm, but then there is roasting. One of my most favorite cooking techniques. And this salad. Paired with roasted/salted butternut squash, massaged kale, maple toasted walnuts, goat cheese and sweet balsamic reduction…dirt flavor, be gone. Besides all the health benefits; I think you’ll find this salad pretty devourable.
Also, a quick note on the massaged kale: Massaging is a way of ‘pre-digesting’ making it easier to chew, easier to digest and essentially; easier to absorb its nutrients. Nutrients? Yes, check it out; Vitamins A, C, K and B’s. Folate, Manganese, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Iron, Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Fatty acids and Fiber. Which pretty much translates to: cancer fighting, antioxidant, machine. Massage, love, and eat allll the kale, all the days of your life.
Now, for the ‘recipe’. I hope this makes sense. It’s really easy to make, but I don’t have exact measurements. Are you okay with that? If not, let me know and I’ll try to measure out next time and update this post with specifics.
Here’s what you need:
- About 3-4 beets. Scrubbed, ends cut off, peeled and quartered.
- 1 butternut squash. Ends cut off, peeled, sliced down the middle, fleshy center scooped out and quartered. (If you’re sensitive to the raw butternut insides. I recommend wearing gloves for this process. Some people get this weird irritating coating on their hands from handling raw squash. I’m not sure about the science or health effects behind it, but FYI)
- 2 baking sheets with parchment paper + a cast iron skillet and sauce pan
- About 2 C raw walnuts
- About 3/4 C grade B maple syrup
- a few pinches of sea salt
- 1 small log of organic goat cheese
- A few cloves of finely minced garlic. (let sit for 10 minutes to retain antioxidants before cooking)
- About 1.5 C Balsamic vinegar
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (make sure it’s of good quality- I love the olive oil we find at the farmers market, but there are some good finds at the grocery store as well. Actually, I would love to hear your favorites in the comments if you’re feeling up to it.)
- 1-2 bunches of kale. Washed, stems removed, then torn into pieces.
Place torn kale in a large glass bowl, drizzle with olive oil, massage, sprinkle with sea salt, toss and set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and heat your oven to 400.
You may want to pre-heat before preparing your veggies. Place quartered beets and butternut squash in a large mixing bowl and toss with a heavy drizzle of olive oil + a big pinch of sea salt. Then, arrange on baking sheets (try not to crowd for even cooking) and place in the oven for about 25 minutes. Be sure to check and stir if the ones around the edges are drying out quicker than the center. While the veggies are roasting, heat your cast iron skillet over medium high. Add walnuts and a pinch of sea salt. Stir. Once heated and nuts release that nutty scent, add maple syrup. Stir constantly until liquid evaporates from pan and nuts are well coated and sticky. Turn off heat and transfer nuts to a bowl to cool.
Add balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan over medium high and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly until reduced and slightly thick. You don’t want it to be too thick and turn to candy before you pour it over the salad, but you don’t want it too runny either. This is a sort of tedious process, but you can do it! Just watch it carefully and you’ll know when it’s ready. It will thicken slightly more once you turn off the heat and it begins to cool. If it does thicken too much, just heat it up again, whisk quickly and then pour over salad as immediate as possible. As soon as you turn off the heat or just before, add minced garlic and stir to heat slightly through and infuse. You could also, add some finely chopped rosemary for a garlic and rosemary infused balsamic reduction. Oh. My. Beet. Salad.
It should be time to assemble your salad now. Pile kale in a bowl, then add warm beets and squash. Pinch small pieces of goat cheese and arrange, any way you like. Add maple toasted walnuts. Finally, drizzle that balsamic reduction. Eat. Be happy. You’re welcome. 😉