Monday, October 14, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Wild Rice Salad on a bed of Warm Kale

I found myself in an odd position today, craving both salad but also something that would stick to my ribs a little but more than some lettuce and raw veggies. After a little bit of imagining, I came up with this yummy dish. This is another addition to my "fall line" of dishes I suppose..a delicious warm and autumnal salad.  A lot of these ingredients actually came right from our garden ( least the kale and the butternut squash, and we handpicked the apples at a local farm..props to fall in new england!) which makes it even more special. This combines the sweetness of apple, the roasty, spicy goodness of cinnamon spiced butternut squash, the delicate pungency of shallot, the nuttiness of wild rice, and the earthiness of sage. The combination is amazing, especially on a nice big bed of warm, lightly steamed kale. This, being an experiment, came out wayyy better than I intended it to on the first shot, and I don't think this recipe really needs many tweaks. I really like it because I didn't want anything too heavy, but it did feel like it would be unsatisfying and unatural to eat a big green salad as it is starting to get much cooler out. This is a perfect solution if you're sharing the same problem (or simply want to eat a super delicious and nutritious plate of fall produce). 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Wild Rice Salad on a bed of Warm Kale
1/2 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled and diced into 1/2- 1 in cubes
3 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
Olive oil
1/2 Tsp Salt
Sprinkle of Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tsp onion powder

1 cup wild rice & brown rice medley (should make around 4 cups cooked)
2.5 Cups vegetable broth
2 sage leaves, chiffonaded
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons Olive oil

4 Shallots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 medium sweet & firm apple, cut into small, thin slices
1/4 cup of chiffonaded sage

Roasted & Salted Sunflower Seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
Parmesan Cheese

4 Large leaves of curly kale, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch strips (I used redbore which I grew in the garden, but any type is fine as long as it is the curly type)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a cookie sheet, mix the butternut squash, garlic, olive oil and spices together and put them in the oven. Cook until they are soft and begin to brown, around 30-40 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes or so to make sure they don't burn.
2. Meanwhile, start cooking the rice according to the directions (I gave rough approximations above, but if the label on your mix says something different then definitely follow that). The only change that I would have you make is using broth instead of water, and while initially bringing the broth to a boil add the chiffonaded sage leaves to infuse some sage flavor. Once at a boil, add the rice and cook until done.
3. While the butternut squash and rice are cooking, heat a few tbs of oil in another frying pan. Add the shallots and sautee on medium high until they start to soften and turn a little brown, 3-4 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and add the sage and apple. Continue to cook until the apples begin to soften slightly, about 2 minutes.
4. Put the kale in a small pot with about a half inch layer of water on the bottom. Steam covered for about 3-5 minutes (depending on how soft you like your kale! I don't mind mine with a little crunch, so I didn't cook it too long). And then proceed to drain the remaining water after the kale is cooked.
5. Mix together the finished butternut squash, shallots/ apples mixture, and rice together with the 3 table spoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (gives it a nice, subtle tang!). Salt and pepper it to your taste at this point.
6. To serve, lay down a bed of the warm wilted kale into a bowl. Spoon the wild rice/ butternut mix on top, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of the salted, roasted sunflower seeds on top and grate a table spoon or two of nice Parmesan cheese. I promise, both of these additions add a lot to the dish! &&& Enjoy!

Health Benefits!!
Wild Rice- with a beautifully nutty taste and high fiber content, wild rice serves as a great grain alternative to its white, processed friends. The high fiber helps aid digestion and lower cholesterol, it has twice as much protein and 30 times as many antioxidants as other rices, high levels of phosphorus, zinc, folate, an Vitamin A, C and E to help overall health and immunity.
Butternut Squash- A TON of vitamin A which is good for eyesight, and maintaining skin and muscle membrains, high in fiber, good source of iron, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, rich in B vitamins and folates.
Apple- High fiber helps in digestion and aids in cleaning teeth naturally, helps to generally detoxify the body
Cinnamon-lowers blood sugar levels, increases insulin production helping prevent type 2 diabetes, has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, smelling cinnamon alone improves cognitive functioning, fights E.Coli bacteria, has been shown to alleviate headache
Sage- a stimulant, a diuretic and an expectorant, it boosts memory and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial as well as anxiolytic (reduces anxiety) properties
Garlic- Contains allicin, an incredibly medicinal component, especially in raw garlic. Allicin can help prevent high blood pressure, aid in digestion, aid in inflammation reduction, help prevent and cure cold, and much much more!
Kale- High in antioxidants to help prevent cancer and heart disease. High in calcium to encourage strong, healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. High in vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.


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