I love this time of year and could not be more excited to be home to the states in less than a year for fall. Though you can make butternut squash and wild rice in October, when you live on a tropical island it doesn’t always make as much sense as when you live in a more temperate climate….when the frost starts to coat your car, when you contemplate mittens or a hat, and definitely put on your pea coat. That’s when is the perfect time for fall food. I can’t wait for that again. Don’t get me wrong, the beaches are gorgeous here. I would trade them in a heartbeat for autumn though.
I went to college at Notre Dame, in northern Indiana, just an hour and a half from Chicago. My friends and I would go into the city and catch a show, get some nice dinner, put on our cosmopolitan selves for a while. Since that time, Chicago has held a soft spot in my heart. I could not be more excited that I will be living there in a year. Autumn is prettiest in temperate zones such as Indiana and Chicago. In South Bend on the Notre Dame campus, maple trees set the scene ablaze with burnt orange and red. It was the best time of year in college, football, anticipation of a fun year, in a place that could not be more beautiful.
This salad is the epitome of fall and harvest. It would be the perfect side for Thanksgiving or a simple meal for anytime. I absolutely love lemon tahini dressing and thought it added just the right bit of tang. The roasting butternut squash made my tropical home smell like autumn in a way that nothing like turkey or squash can.
A note on massaging the kale: most amazing trick ever. You know how sometimes you want to want kale because it’s good for you. Massaging your kale actually makes you want kale. The acid and fat work to break down the cellulose and it becomes more tender than most lettuce. It’s brilliant and I’m thrilled I have more kale in my fridge to massage asap.
- 1 cup wild rice, uncooked
- 5 cups kale, spines removed (from one large bunch)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups butternut squash (from a 2 lb butternut squash)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ⅔ cup dried cranberry
- ¼ cup tahini
- 6 Tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 T) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons agave or honey
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts or other nuts(optional)
- a few extra dried cranberries
- Cook wild rice according to directions on stovetop. Do not overcook as we don’t want it to be mushy. Cool to room temperature when cooked, drain if needed.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Remove skin and seeds of butternut squash. Cut into ½ inch chunks. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook butternut squash in oven for about 35 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Squash should be tender inside and a browning on the outside. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Remove spines from kale, measure and massage with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice for a few minutes in a large bowl.
- Gently toss together wild rice, kale, butternut squash, and cranberries.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients of lemon tahini dressing. Drizzle over salad and toss.
- Garnish with toasted pine nuts (or any other nut you prefer) and a few extra dried cranberries.