Super Food: Kale with Caramelized Squash and Onions

Kale and Squash Salad with Caramelized Onions |

Depending on what Super Food list you’re reading , kale may or may not be on it. Regardless, kale is enjoying the limelight these days because “healthy” kale chips have found their way into markets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes  and publicity surrounding a  Vermont T-shirt maker face-off with a certain fast food chain that begins with Chik over trademark infringement which prompted Vermont’s governor to publicly state “don’t mess with kale” in his defense.

All good publicity for a food that Tamara Duker Freuman, a dietician and nutritionist with an informative blog called What I’m Eating Now, says kale scores a perfect 1,000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, a food-rating system that measures nutrients per calorie. “While I view the term ‘superfood’ with more than a healthy dose of skepticism (it’s more of a marketing term than a nutrition term), I would be hard-pressed to come up with a food more deserving of the title,” Duker Freuman says of kale in this NPR article.

Personally, kale is on my super food list – I’ve just never posted a kale recipe, probably because I couldn’t get a good photo… or didn’t bother to try (I’ve grown weary of scrambling around to get a money shot of dinner when the sun has already set)! Kale is a fall/winter veggie with loads of Vitamins K, A and C, and calcium and iron going for it. Although, the dark leafy green powerhouse has been a salad staple at “health” food restaurants such as Veggie Grill and on the salad bar at Whole Foods, as its status and popularity increases its also creeping onto some unlikely restaurant menus – such as an Olive Garden soup.

At  home, it lends a sweet and earthy flavor when stirred into minestrone, Italian Wedding, and other warming winter soups. You can even grill kale like I did last summer – I topped it with toasted hazelnuts and yogurt dressing (a là Travis Lett of Gjelina) and was featured in the LA Times – sweet!

Grilled Kale, Travis Lett recipe for grilled kale, Gjelina grilled kale

I’ve served poached eggs on a bed of crispy kale with Hoppin’ John for New Year’s good luck:

crispy kale, Hoppin' John, blackeyed peas

In the fall, it was kale salad with persimmons – persimmon season is very short, so now I’m substituting blood oranges:

Kale salad with persimmons

Are you convinced of kale’s versatility yet? Good! Here, the super green food receives somewhat of a wilted salad treatment when topped with caramelized onion and butternut squash. You’ll feel more virile and energized with every mouthful :) This satisfying, super nutritious dish is vegetarian (easily made vegan), gluten free, dairy free, heart healthy, and delicious. We enjoyed it as a light, i.e., meatless dinner, and with Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day behind us, I finally feel like I’m getting on track with the intentions I’ve set for 2012. How are you progressing with your health-related goals?

Kale with Caramelized Squash and Onions
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Here, the super green food receives somewhat of a wilted salad treatment when topped with caramelized onion and butternut squash. You'll feel more virile and energized with every mouthful!
Serves: 2 servings as a main, 4 as a side
  • 1 bunch organic lacinato kale
  • ½ roasted red bell pepper
  • 4 cups steamed butternut squash, bite-size cubes*
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil, or pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon butter*
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, maple or brown rice syrup
  1. Roast the red pepper under the broiler or in your toaster oven set on Broil until skin is charred. Wrap in tin foil or put in a bag to steam. Removing skin after it has cooled.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic, stir and cook for a minute. Add the squash and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavors and brown the squash.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the kale, cut out the thicker stems, and cut crosswise into thin ½ inch wide strips. Put in a serving bowl.
  4. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add to kale and toss to coat. Add strips of red pepper, top with squash and caramelized onion mixture, and top with pepitas.
I bought a section of butternut squash, peeled it, put in my Tupperware steamer and microwaved it for 3 minutes. After it has cooled, cut into bite size cubes. The squash should be undercooked because you will be caramelizing it with the onions.
*I've learned that the benefits of garlic are fully realized when crushed and the garlic sits for a bit before being cooked.
*Eliminate the butter and double the olive oil for Vegan preparation.

Enjoy :)

Kale and Squash Salad with Caramelized Onions |



25 Responses to “Super Food: Kale with Caramelized Squash and Onions”

  1. Lisa February 17 at 5:59 pm #

    I love Kale, but mostly consume it in this great smoothie my BF concocted – kale, ginger, apples, celery and vanilla whey protein powder. After seeing all of your hot preps using it, especially this one, I definitely need to get with it!

    BTW, bars on your friend’s window? OK, that beats mine by a mile lol

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 17 at 10:11 pm #

    Adore kale…esp. when prepared right and properly, just like this one with caramelized squash and onions. Beautiful flavours.
    Have a great weekend!

  3. Lora @cakeduchess February 18 at 7:13 am #

    This looks fantastic, Priscilla. I always have some kale on hand and can’t wait to try this tasty recipe you shared with us. Have a wonderful weekend.xx:)

  4. Jen February 18 at 7:37 am #

    Sorry, you can’t call it vegan if you’re cooking with butter and honey. Otherwise, it looks like a yummy dish.

    • Priscilla February 18 at 8:59 am #

      You’re right, Jen. Should be Vegetarian, easily made vegan by using brown rice or maple syrup as listed and only olive oil for sautéing, I’ll correct that!

  5. Laz February 18 at 8:16 am #

    The kale, onion, & squash combo is fabulous. Kale is such a fantastic green.

  6. Victoria February 18 at 12:13 pm #

    It’s good to know I’m being super healthy when I eat my kale :) Great info on kale and a lot of different yummy ways of serving it!

  7. Magic of Spice February 18 at 12:23 pm #

    Love kale and you show some great ways to get flavorful use from it. This squash and kale dish is just fantastic!
    P.S. You went to Old Town Orange farmers market with out me? :(

  8. Kelly February 20 at 7:59 am #

    Oh this looks incredible, what a great dish! :)

  9. RavieNomNoms February 20 at 8:41 am #

    YUM to kale! It is always so good and so versatile in my opinion. That squash looks so delicious. Have a great day Priscilla!

  10. Emily @ Life on Food February 20 at 9:37 am #

    I was looking for a new kale recipe this weekend. I didn’t find anything that made my mouth water but this certainly does. I have been eating kale chips for a while but they are getting a bit redundant. Glad to have a new recipe.

  11. Kiri W. February 20 at 10:31 am #

    I adore kale, but have never had it with squash – looks glorious! :) Very appetizing.

  12. Peggy February 20 at 1:03 pm #

    Kale is one of my favorite greens! These look amazing =)

  13. sippitysup February 20 at 7:15 pm #

    Super indeed and paired together they are super duper. GREG

  14. Nami | Just One Cookbook February 20 at 9:59 pm #

    I really know it’s about time for me to grab that bag of kale from Trader Joe’s and cook it for the first time. Seriously I’ve been telling myself when a lot of bloggers were sharing the kale recipes. I actually like the sound (and look) of this salad. Caramelized squash and onions? Hmmm must be so good with kale. I love how green kale is. It must have great nutrients and I love veggies, so I know I’d love it. It’s just new ingredient and I always think of incorporating into Japanese food. I should just cook non-Japanese food with kale so it’s easier! lol. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

  15. Matt mmWine Horbund February 21 at 4:42 am #

    That seems pretty healthy – and could actually be tasty! I’d have to find some wine to pair it with, to balance it out. Perhaps a Gavi or pinot grigio, something light, fruity, to make it seem like I’m not being healthy!

  16. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz February 22 at 10:55 am #

    Such a beautiful salad and indeed that is a great shot of kale…not the most photogenic food. I have made some a couple of times but might use it more now since it is so good.

  17. kita February 26 at 5:43 pm #

    Kale will always be one of my favorite super foods. No matter what any list says. Its one of the hearty leafy greens I can sneak into a lot of dishes and my family wont complain. I call that super all right. 😉 This dish looks so colorful and beautiful with the squash and kale. The flavors sound great too.

  18. Loren Nason February 27 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for showing this to me

  19. Mindy Howell September 23 at 9:40 pm #

    I am so trying this one. I LOVE kale and grow my own. I have Red Russian and Dinosaur kale now. I have tried several recipes with this wonderful green leaf and have loved them all. I’m excited to try this one…. I have ALL the ingredients on hand too! Thanks for sharing.


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