Kale salad tossed in a cider and honey vinaigrette, topped by squash caramelized with brown sugar.

Caramelized Acorn Squash and Kale Salad


The celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah are behind us; the hustle and bustle of  the New Year not quite here. In between, lies the gift of a few days of quiet; a natural pause, to exhale, and slip inside myself to reflect over the past year, and to think about the year ahead. Hardly revolutionary. In fact, this tradition is thought to date from 153 B.C. with the placement of Janus at the beginning of the Roman calendar.

Sculpture of Janus in the Vatican. Photo from Wikipedia

Janus, a mythical early Roman king, was depicted with 2 faces: one looking forward to the coming year, the other looking backward at the one just completed; and over time came to represent the concept of making resolutions for the new year with newly gained wisdom.

This isn’t the start of a post filled with New Year’s Resolutions I’ll never keep. I don’t even make a list anymore; not because I’ve given up, but because it makes me feel bound to yet another list before I’ve even launched into the new year.

Instead, a number of years ago, I began the habit of setting a single Intention to carry me through the year, with the thought that surely I could make ONE change in my life if I have a entire, freeking year to do it.

This year, as I was thinking about the one I want to carry with me in 2012, I began to think about the core beliefs that we hold, consciously or not, that define our lives. Beliefs that become, over time, a reference point for our relationships, goals, dreams and fears; a prism for how we define what’s possible for us.

And the consequences for the prism we choose.

For example, if a self-defining core belief is to shrink from life in order to feel safe, because someone took advantage of our trust 20 years ago; we may miss opportunities to be open to relationships built on trust.

If we are focused on fear, failure and loss as a result of being fired or losing a business; we may never see the possibilities that exist for us around the corner. We stop taking chances. We stop pushing the boundaries of our lives.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I traveled back east for a wedding that was packed to brimming with the warmth of family, connection and community. At a brunch, I was struck by a conversation I shared with a cousin’s wife who is valiantly fighting a serious form of cancer. It has not been an easy path, but between extensive surgeries involving long recoveries, she enrolled in a Master’s program for counseling. After her last round of chemo, she painstakingly began to train for a sprint Triathlon with her husband and a close friend, which she proudly finished with flying colors. There are still battles to fight, but instead of her life being defined by cancer and loss, she has chosen hope, faith, triumph over adversity, and a determination to embrace life instead.

I’m still thinking about that New Year’s Intention I’ll be setting for the coming year, but one thing I know for certain: it will be strongly affected by that single conversation.

In the meantime, I was inspired to make a lunch for champions with this nutritiously delicious kale salad with caramelized acorn squash to eat while I look forward to the coming year. Happy New Year to everyone, and best wishes for a healthy and happy 2012.


Roasting Acorn Squash

Caramelized Acorn Squash and Kale Salad

Cook’s Notes:

Salad Ingredients…

  • 1 bunch of kale (about 20 leaves)
  • 1/2 acorn squash
  • 1 apple
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon water (or enough to dissolve the brown sugar)
  • pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Making the Salad…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Cut the acorn squash in half; and cut one half of the squash in half again. Reserve the remaining squash for another purpose. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon, and slice the squash in 1/2″ thick slices. Toss in just enough olive oil to coat them, and place on a baking sheet. Lightly salt.
  2. Roast for 15 minutes, or until just tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. While the squash is roasting, make the caramelizing sauce by combining the brown sugar, butter and water together in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Continue to heat until the butter is melted and the brown sugar dissolves into the water and butter. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 seconds.
  4. Dip the squash pieces in the caramelizing sauce to coat, and place them back on the baking sheet. Move the oven rack up to the top rung, or the rung you use for broiling, and turn on the broiler. Put the squash back in the oven and broil for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to slightly cool while you make the rest of the salad.
  5. Place the kale on a workspace, lightly salt, and massage the kale until it becomes slightly limp and very moist. Dry by squeezing it with paper towels and place in a bowl.
  6. Cut the apple in quarters, remove the core, and slice thinly. Place in the bowl with the kale. Add a handful or two of pumpkin seeds, and then the caramelized squash slices.
  7. Combine the honey and apple cider in a bowl, and mix with a fork to completely dissolve the honey into the apple cider. Drizzle half of it over the kale salad and lightly toss, being careful not to break up the squash pieces. Add more dressing as desired.
  8. Usher in the New Year with a healthy lunch.


Some other kale salads you might like:

Fall Kale Salad with Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes by The Wimpy Vegetarian.

Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries by TasteFood

Endive, Kale, and Smoked Salmon Salad with Avocado and Pink Grapefruit by Healthy Green Kitchen

Kale Herb Salad by Blue Kale Road




Pin It

Tags: , , ,

8 Responses to “Caramelized Squash and Kale Salad” Subscribe

  1. Lynda December 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Susan, you are so right. Thank you for your wisdom (and prod.)
    And thank you for linking to TF! Have a happy, joyous and healthy new year!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian December 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      You’re very welcome, Lynda! I love that kale salad! And a very happy new year to you and your family!!

  2. LiztheChef December 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    You are the kale queen…And thank you for your thoughtful words and a year of support and friendship.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian December 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      I’m sending you the same thank you, Liz! You have been such a great friend and blog support queen for me this year. A very happy new year to you and Larry!!

  3. Robin December 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Looks delish! Are you going to have a “pin it” button for pinterest?

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian December 31, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      I think I figured out how to add the “pin it” button. This has been quite a crash coarse in computers for me! I just tested it, though, and it seems to work. Please let me know if it doesn’t! Happy you want to pin it! Thanks and Happy New Year Robin!!

  4. eat well, live free January 2, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Gorgeous and inspiring salad! I’ve got some chard hanging out in the fridge, I bet I could barely blanch it and make it work… Love it, thanks!!

  5. The Wimpy Vegetarian January 2, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Thanks so much! The caramelized squash would go GREAT with the chard. Let us know how it works with barely blanching the chard. I really like that idea!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge