In the summer, I am a salad person….. Salad and quiches! Lots of them…… In Winter it’s soup, but once the weather warms, I firmly shift my sights to the green leafy stuff and all salady variations beyond…..
Sadly, I am a lone salad-lover in the family, and hence, more often than not, I end up using the bagged varieties for ease and speed.
I can be quite picky about which bagged salads I will eat, and mostly go for simple mixed baby leaves, spinach or a more peppery rocket. I find the smaller leaves to be without any bitterness and they marry well with pretty much anything, from traditional salad fruits to cheeses, fish, meat and nuts.
I was recently asked if I would be interested in making something tasty with Florette Salad. Florette set up as a family business in 1983 and now source their salad leaves across Europe to ensure year round availability. In addition to the mixed and single-variety bags of salads, they also make a number of salad bowls which are great for a grab and go lunch or snack.
When I checked out their web site however, I was really interested to see that they also have bags of Baby Kale leaves. Now that grabbed my attention!
Kale has been rising in the popularity stakes for a number of months and has been creeping into blog posts all over the place. A member of the cabbage family, it is considered to be one of the world’s super foods, packed with anti-oxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals (that’s ‘good stuff’ to the less knowledgable of us). Gram for gram it contains 17 times more vitamin C than carrots and ample amounts of vitamin K. Find out more about it here.
We eat steamed kale quite a lot at home and whilst I enjoy it, it can be a little…. well…… dull. Don’t get me wrong….. I like the stuff (except the kale crisps that I got from M&S once which were a seriously unpleasant experience) but a few hurriedly cooked, slightly tough leaves as a ‘side’ is very uninspiring.
But baby kale leaves? That sounds altogether more interesting! Baby leaves are always more tender, sweeter and likely to be more versatile as they can be eaten raw or cooked, right? Right! And so it is with Baby Kale…… Mild, with a nice crunch and plenty of sweetness, I found myself dipping hand into bag and eating the leaves as though they were Smarties. I am very impressed with this small, but powerful little leaf. The possibilities are going to be endless with this bag!
But back to the task in hand……
Wanting to create something a bit different to persuade my family that salad is not all ‘iceberg, tomatoes & cucumber’, I have combined a number of my favourite flavours for this dish…… Interestingly ingredients that I often use in risotto……. but having tasted a few of the leaves, decided would pair well.
The savoury earthiness and crisp texture of the baby kale leaves pairs beautifully against the peppery wild rocket and soft sweetness of honey-roast butternut squash, which has been shaved into ribbons before roasting for a more interesting texture and appearance. Set against the firm, slightly chewy, soy-laced chicken, cheesy-salty firm parmesan and intensely-nutty and aromatic crunchy roasted pine nuts and pumpkin seeds, the combination of flavours and sensations on the palate makes for a really interesting fork-full. The final delight is a sweet, syrupy caramel drizzle of rich balsamic vinegar across the top……. Delicious!
Just remember that for those of you who need to avoid gluten, make sure you use the gluten free Shoyu soy sauce, and double check all labels to make sure you don’t get a hidden dose of the nasty stuff!
I would thoroughly recommend you try this salad…… it is as flavourful and tantalising to the tastebuds as it is pretty! A meal in itself, it kept me completely satisfied for hours and I could feel smug knowing that it was wonderfully low carb and very healthy. Even my husband liked it……… In fact, he liked it so much, the following day he asked….. ‘are you making another one of those salads for lunch?’ Now that’s a triumph!!
I am sharing my Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan and Pine Nut Salad with the following linkys :
Extra Veg with Fuss Free Flavours
Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad (Serves 2 to 3 people)
1 tablespoon gluten free shoyu (soy sauce)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Prepare the butternut squash by cutting in half, deseeding and peeling. Then take a wide-bladed vegetable peeler and ‘shave’ the squash into ribbons of flesh.
- Place the squash ribbons in a large oven-proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
- Drizzle the honey over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is soft and the edges are beginning to crisp up.
- Whilst the oven is on and the squash is cooking, put the pumpkin seeds/pine nuts on a baking tray/oven proof dish and place in the oven to roast for 8 to 10 minutes, turning a couple of times during toasting. When toasted, set aside.
- Whilst the squash is cooking, also prepare the chicken breasts by cutting into cubes and frying in hot olive oil in a skillet, turning frequently, until cooked through and browned. Half way through cooking, add a splash of shoyu soy sauce and stir through. When cooked, remove with a straining spoon and set aside.
- Shave the Parmesan cheese into ribbons using a wide vegetable peeler and set aside.
- To assemble the salad, tip the baby kale and rocket into a large bowl and mix together.
- Top with the cooked chicken cubes, ribbons of butternut squash, shaved Parmesan and pine nuts/pumpkin seeds.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve with Focaccia or crusty bread.