I have FALLen so hard for fall.
And we are only a day and like six hours in. I am telling you, I am jumping in with both feet, get ready.
So this is the balance salad. You see, I figured that after those apple pecan pie cronuts on Friday I should maybe throw in a little green and skip the cheese. Oh wait, there’s still cheese in this, but I just couldn’t help myself. Life is boring without cheese.
Oh and I feel I should mention that it is snowing right now. Only only the mountain tops, but geez guys it’s still snow. This means it is cold and rainy and the ultimate cozy weather.
Now do you see how I can jump into fall so easily?
It’s just not my fault. I have no control over the crazy mountain weather, but I have to say it happens every year. And well I sometimes complain about it, I secretly love it. There is just nothing better than cozy weather.
Since I cannot just fill your minds (and stomachs) with pure cheese, pasta, pumpkin, cookies, cake, brownies and butter all the time I decided to go with salad.
Ok and the boys were gone for three nights last week. This meant it was the perfect opportunity to actually not have to cook two meals and just cook one green, non meat meal. It was an awesome three days.
So where did the boys go? Those punks got to go on a little mini vacay, mid school week, and fly off to LA for a quick Burton (yeah that’s my brother Red in the red Hoodie and the last of the 3 boarders hiking up the hill) photo shoot. They lived it up like rock stars in some Hollywood hills home, came home and had to face a reality check – sorry boys, that life doesn’t exist here.
No maids (yeah they really had maids), no five-star restaurant burgers for lunch, no swimming in infinity pools at eleven o’clock on a Thursday, and today – yep, back to school (for the few hours they go).
Obviously, they are having a hard time adjusting.
Their lives are so rough, huh?
Anyway, when the boys are away apparently I make salad.
But whatever, I was happy. This salad has honestly all of my favorite foods. Butternut squash (all time favorite fall veggie), apples, crispy kale, pecans and even stinkin grilled cheese croutons.
Oh and it’s all warm and cozy. Personally, those are my favorite salads.
There is nothing remotely hard about putting this salad together, but it just takes some hands on time. Peel the squash, clean the seeds, roast the veggies, make the dressing, make the grilled cheese, roll over from how amazing that ooey goey brie looks, and then toss it all together.
Like I said, not too hard, just a little work.
But it is SO healthy and SO good.
And I mean brie grilled cheese croutons?
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (reserve those seeds!) and cut into cubes (about 4 cups total)
- 2 honeycrisp apples, chopped
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon peper
- 1 large bunch kale, torn away from stem and roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
- Brie Croutons
- 2 sliced whole grain bread
- 4 slices brie cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Apple Cider Dressing
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- salt + pepper
To make the dressing. Add the apple cider to a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil, boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cider has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cayenne (if using), salt and pepper. Set aside
While you work on the dressing preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and start the kale.
Add the kale to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss well and massage the kale with your hands for a good 1 to 2 minutes. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, tossing 1-2 times while cooking, until crispy. Remove and place in a large bowl, set aside.
While the kale gets crispy start working on the squash. In a small bowl combine the chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
Peel and chop the squash, but reserve the seeds and add to bowl of water. Using your hands separate the seeds form the orange goopy flesh. Place the seeds in a paper towel and pat dry. Set the seeds aside.
Add the squash to a sheet pan and drizzle on a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Sprinkle with about half the spice mixture and toss well. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and add the chopped apples and pecans and add a sprinkle more of the seasoning and then toss it all together. Bake for another 15-25 minutes, or until the squash and apples are tender.
Now grab the seeds and place them in a small baking dish. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and the remaining seasoning. Toss well and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden and toasted, but watch carefully, they will burn quickly. Set aside.
Now add the roasted, butternut squash, apples and pecans to the crispy kale. Toss.
Heat a medium skillet on medium heat, add a tablespoon butter. Sandwich the the brie between 2 slices of bread. Add the sandwiches to the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on both sides or until the bread is toasted and the brie is melted. Remove and let sit a couple minutes and then chop into cubes.
Divide the salad among plates and top with the croutons, roasted seeds and a drizzle of the apple cider dressing. EAT!
Best addition to a salad. Ever.