Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema

We’re just going to make it a Canada-themed week.

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sound good? It was Boxing Day on Monday, after all. Did anybody else hit the crazy good sale at Lululemon? I’m not sure if they did it at all of their stores, but we have a Lululemon Outlet near my parents’ house and, boy, was I glad my mom still wanted to treat me to some “Christmas presents.” I pretty much cleaned up and will not be needing any other sort of workout/athleisure wear in the near future.

But I digress. The real reason I’m here today is to tell you about this Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema. It’s my take on one of my favorite things my girlfriend and I tasted on our trip to Quebec City earlier this month, and it is sooooo delicious!

We actually came across the restaurant we had this at by accident, after the place we were planning on going to had no availability for that night. The host at that restaurant recommended that we head to this one down the street, which is how we ended up at Le Renard et La Chouette. This place was legit FRENCH, and Johanna and I were a bit overwhelmed by the menu. We quickly decided on the Chef’s Tasting Menu so that the decision was left up to him rather than us.

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

Our first course consisted of sautéed mushrooms with smoked salmon and garlic cream plus an amazing cold shrimp salad with fennel, radish, horseradish cream and pistachios. I immediately fell in love with both and knew I had to try to recreate them at home. This Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema is my take on that second dish, and boy, am I proud of it! I’m so excited I took good notes because this dish is spot. on.

I initially wanted to do everything from scratch (naturally) but after the first round of uncooked shrimp I bought from the store smelled a little funny, I decided to go to a more respectable grocer in my area and just purchase the pre-cooked stuff. I also realize that this is probably the preference of most of you readers out there and that not everyone likes to make EVERYTHING from scratch.

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

So, we take our pre-cooked, thawed shrimp, remove the tails and cut into bite-size pieces. We don’t want any de-tailing to get in the way of our rapid consumption of this scrumptious salad.

We then toss the shrimp with all the goodies: radish, fennel, fresh chives and fennel fronds, pistachios….Guys, the pistachios are really the icing on the cake (or the topping on the salad?) here. They MAKE the dish.

And the crema, ohhhhhh the crema. We can’t forget you. I have to admit, not being a huge horseradish lover, I was a bit hesitant when the words “horseradish cream” came out of the Chef’s mouth during his presentation. But I have to tell you that it complements all of the flavors in this dish just perfectly and I promise you won’t even be able to tell it’s horseradish in there giving the crema it’s tang.

Because I was obviously all about the shortcuts for this recipe (the madness of the holidays will do that to you) I decided to make my “crema” out of plain Greek yogurt. I also added some lemon juice to up the “tang” factor without upping the horseradish flavor. You’re welcome.

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

This dish is amazing because it is quick and easy, but anyone you serve it to will no doubt be impressed. There are so many unique flavors that come together to create a healthy, easy dish, I think it would be the perfect addition to your New Year’s Eve (or Day!) spread. It’s also a perfect complement to champagne (or just about any white wine for that matter) and will provide a solid base layer for all of your other indulgences that night 😉

I’m at my parents’ for the week mixing up work and play, and loving all of this quality time I get to spend with them. I hope you are having (or got to have) some quality time with all of your loved ones over this holiday season. Stay tuned for a super-fun Canadian-themed cocktail coming up on Friday. It’s for sure one for the books!

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema
Prep Time
15 mins
 

A light, refreshing salad full of chilled shrimp, crunchy fennel, radishes and pistachios, and tons of fresh herbs, all tossed in a tangy crema dressing with hints of lemon juice and horseradish.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cooked medium shrimp, tails removed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 of a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup pistachio nutmeats, toasted
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, fennel bulb, pistachios, radishes, 2 tablespoons fresh chives and fennel fronds.

  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, horseradish and salt. Pour this dressing onto the shrimp salad and toss to combine. Top with more chopped fresh chives to serve.

Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Tangy Crema | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Cheers to a healthy and Happy New Year!

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole

I never thought that string of words would come out of my mouth.

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

But you know, sometimes when you’re trying to find that balance, the inevitable happens. You set out to make a healthier version of the classic green bean casserole, and as you dip your little toe into testing those healthier waters you realize that, with just a couple of minor swaps, this dish could easily be transformed into a Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole.

So let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. Green bean casserole has always been a favorite of my dad’s, and I’d always eat it when it was set in front of me, but to be honest, it didn’t light up my life quite like a juicy roast turkey or a Sweet with Heat Yam Casserole.

Pair that blasé feeling with the fact that the classic green bean casserole recipe isn’t all that healthy, and you have your reason for why I had never 100% committed to the dish. But something happened to me this past year, and that thing happened to be my discovery of the amazing wonder-condiment called cashew cream.

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’ve already used cashew cream in sooo many recipes, like this Sweet Potato Toast with Broccoli Rabe, Tomato and Cashew Cream, these Spicy Stuffed Pasilla Peppers with Cashew Cream Sauce and this Curry Gnocchi with White Lamb Bolognese. It is just such a versatile ingredient, and I can’t help thinking of more and more ways to incorporate it into my balanced way of eating.

When I was brainstorming some new Thanksgiving recipe ideas for the blog this year, I figured I should finally try to tackle the typically lackluster (and very unhealthy) green bean casserole and make it into a recipe that I could really stand behind. Because when you’re a food blogger for a living, you want to make allllll the foods taste even better, you feel me?

We all know that one of the star ingredients in green bean casserole is cream of mushroom soup (Campbell’s has probably made a killing off of their recipe with those crispy French’s onions) but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not the biggest fan of heavily processed foods and try to avoid them whenever possible. Enter my new favorite condiment – cashew cream! I knew I could make a creamy, mushroom-y sauce just as delicious using this easy, healthy, three-ingredient sauce.

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

I also decided I wanted to make my own crispy onions in lieu of the classic French’s your grandma probably has stacked up in her pantry (see above mention of my aversion to heavily processed foods.) A quick search through the interwebs led me to Alton Brown’s from-scratch Best Ever Green Bean Casserole, and if anyone knows how to do a crispy onion like a boss, you can bet it’s Alton Brown. I kept his recipe by my side for guidance as I improv’d my way through creating a Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole.

So here’s the lowdown:

You’re going to want to start by making your crispy onions. Our onion rings are baked in the oven with a light coating of flour, salt and Panko breadcrumbs, so no need to worry about frying here. (Hallelujah!)

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

While the onions are baking, you’re going to want to blanch your green beans and blend up your cashew cream (you can also make the cashew cream up to a day in advance if you can get your act together in time.)

Next, it’s time to saute your mushrooms. Some garlic, some nutmeg, a light dusting of flour to thicken, and a healthy glug of white wine are all we need to make these mushrooms ones to remember. Then we simply stir in our cashew cream, some of the crispy onions, and our blanched green beans.

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

Transfer everything to your favorite baking dish, top with the rest of your onions, and pop back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so. Your Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole is complete!

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

You may already have your Thanksgiving menu locked down, but you can bet those vegan or health-minded individuals in your life would love you even more if you added this to the menu. What do you have to lose (besides a few extra calories to allow for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie?)

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

A healthy, dairy- and meat-free take on the classic holiday green bean casserole.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1 pound fresh green beans trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 16 ounces cremini or button mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew cream See Recipe in notes
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the onion slices, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup panko and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Pour coated onions onto baking sheet and bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times during this process to make sure they roast evenly.

  2. While the onions are cooking, prepare the green beans. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 3-5 minutes, until they feel crisp-tender. Immediately strain through a colander and then add green beans to an ice bath to keep them from continuing to cook and getting mushy.

  3. Once the onions are done in the oven, remove and set aside. Turn oven down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Next, prepare the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a large, deep saute pan. Add minced garlic and saute in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add mushrooms, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine and let mushrooms cook until they have begun to release some of their water. Sprinkle mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to coat. 

  5. After a couple of minutes, add white wine and cashew cream. Stir everything until combined, then stir in ¼ of the onion rings and the green beans. Transfer this mixture to a casserole dish and top with remaining onion rings. Place in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly. Be sure to keep an eye on the onion rings on top so they don’t burn. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

To make the cashew cream: Soak 2 cups of raw, unsalted cashews in a bowl of water for at least 4 hours (or overnight.) Drain cashews and place in a high-powered blender with 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups filtered water. Blend on high until a smooth cream forms. 

Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

You can’t even tell it’s vegan!

Coctel de Camarones

Because fresh, healthy, home-cooked foods are my jam right now.

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

Hi, hello there! Man, does it feel good to be back home. After a marathon week of eating alllll of the delicious things in Hawaii followed immediately by a way-too-much fun bachelorette party in San Francisco, I’m digging in to all of my go-to healthy recipes, like this Coctel de Camarones!

That’s right, I’m taking full advantage of this week and a half I have at home before heading back up to Napa next week to clean up my act and eat as lean, clean and green as possible (all while maintaining that balance of course!) Seafood, veggies, broth-based soups and nutrient-packed salads have been my standbys this week and boy, do I feel the difference! I feel less bloated, have more energy, and am genuinely excited for my next meal when I have all of this delicious, healthy stuff waiting for me.

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

I am soooo excited to share this Coctel de Camarones recipe with you for many reasons. First of all, I’ve been obsessed with Coctel de Camarones ever since I first tasted it at the Rubicon (now Inglenook) Harvest Party the first year I worked at the world-famous winery. What was this delicious dish that basically encompassed all of the best flavors of ceviche, shrimp cocktail and Bloody Mary’s??

After a quick interrogation of the caterer, I learned that the secret to this amazing appetizer called Coctel de Camarones was not just the typical ingredients you find in salsas, guacamole and ceviche (cilantro, jalapeno, onion, and the like) but a sauce made up primarily of Clamato. Say what?

You see, this gal won’t usually come within 10 feet of a Bloody Mary, or anything involving tomato juice, for that matter. But this, this was insane! You could tell there was just something about the whole “do” that wasn’t your average tomato juice.

I spent some time trying to track down a similar recipe shortly after the Harvest Party, but to no avail. I just couldn’t find a Coctel de Camarones recipe that encompassed all of the delicious ingredients that had been in that caterer’s version. I quickly forgot about it and went along making my typical Mexican food go-tos, like this Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya, this Mango Salsa and this Kimchi Bacon Guacamole.

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fast forward to planning the FEED Supper I hosted last month, and my old, fond memories of Coctel de Camarones resurfaced. I just HAD to make a version to serve my guests as they arrived. There was no other appetizer that would make the cut. I needed to find (or at least try to create) a version of this recipe.

I turned to Pinterest (of which my obsession has steadily grown since that fated Harvest Party, and therefore my library of pins) to see what I might be able to find. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy! But, after much searching and deliberation, I came across this recipe. Bingo!

Using the small amount of information I’d gathered from the caterer, I modified this recipe slightly by using Clamato instead of V8 (there is a difference, trust me!) and, to add a little more depth of flavor, I roasted the whole tomatoes before chopping them up and throwing them in.

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let’s just say my Coctel de Camarones was more than a hit, it was a grand slam! The entire bowl (I had doubled the recipe for this event) disappeared before my eyes, and guests were coming up to me saying that this was the best thing they’d ever tasted.

Now, I know that I’ve been preaching the healthy, whole foods in this post, but you really must not skip serving a hefty side of tortilla chips with this recipe. It’s a must. They are the perfect vehicle for scooping massive amounts of Coctel de Camarones directly into your mouth, because who wants to bother using a spoon when you’ve got something this delicious to inhale? There are plenty of healthier versions of tortilla chips out there, or you can even make your own!

Basically, there are no excuses as to why you should not be making this ASAP. Plus, this recipe gets even better with a day or two to let all of the flavors come together in the refrigerator. Looking to mix up your holiday appetizers this year? Coctel de Camarones would be the perfect make-ahead dish (and no doubt you will not have to worry about any leftovers.)

Whether you decide to make Coctel de Camarones for the holidays, a healthy football Sunday snack, or even for a weeknight dinner, you will not be disappointed. Now, excuse me, I’ve got to go plow through the leftovers I have marinating in the refrigerator right now…

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Coctel de Camarones
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A healthy, refreshing appetizer full of tender, delicious shrimp, tomatoes and all your favorite Mexican condiments!

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound raw shrimp peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • 1 1/2 cups Clamato
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Tapatio
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and place in a well-oiled baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over top of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool once done. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, roughly chop into bite-size pieces.

  2. Place a large saucepan filled with generously salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil, then add shrimp. Boil shrimp for two minutes, then remove to an ice bath. Let sit in ice bath for three minutes, then drain. 

  3. Chop up shrimp into small pieces and add to a large mixing bowl with roasted tomatoes, Clamato, ketchup, lime juice, Tapatio, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and salt. Add avocado right before serving.

Recipe Notes

This dish can be prepared up to two days in advance. Simply wait to add the avocado until right before you’re ready to serve.

Coctel de Camarones | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Did someone say lycopene?

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes

Time for some veggies in our lives.

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

We’ve made it through one of the most sweets-filled holidays of the year (I’m looking at you, Halloween) and if you’ve had anything like the past couple of weeks I’ve had, your ready for some of this nutritious goodness in your life. Enter: Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes.

The hubs and I had a fantastic trip to Napa the weekend before last, and our extra day there (we arrived Friday morning rather than late Friday night like we usually do) really made a HUGE difference.

Because we were there during harvest, the Valley was incredibly busy. Being there on a Friday meant we were able to get into some of the smaller wineries that would require appointments far in advance on an October weekend. We got to check out so many new places that I had never been to, even during my three years living there.

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

I know I’ve already done a Travel Diary on Napa, but that was nearly two years ago, and so much has changed up there. I might just have to do another one telling you more about all that we did – so much great wine AND food!

We made it back to Santa Barbara late Sunday night, and I had a few days at home before I hopped on a plane on Friday for Hawaii. My dad and I have been eating our way through all of the fantastic new restaurants in Honolulu ever since, but more on that coming in a future post!

One thing I know for sure is that I’m going to be eating alllll the vegetables I possibly can between the time I get back next Sunday and Thanksgiving in just a few short weeks. Gotta maintain that balance, yo!

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

And these Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes are THE answer. I tell ya. I’ve never seen so much seasonal goodness wrapped up in one dish (okay, except for maybe in this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette I posted a couple of weeks ago.)

This dish is incredibly easy and also very versatile. My picks to include in the mix (based on the “fall-est” looking goods at Trader Joe’s and what I already had in my refrigerator) were kabocha squash, fennel, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The hardest part in deciding what to use is choosing vegetables that will all cook at about the same pace.

The two things I would recommend NOT leaving out (or substituting for) are the grapes and almonds. They truly make the dish. The grapes add the perfect hit of sweet juiciness, and the almonds add a three-dimensional crunch to the mix. We add these for the last 10 minutes of roasting to avoid the nuts getting burnt past edibility or the grapes shriveling up into nothing.

The other great thing about these Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes? They are the perfect canvas for soooo many different dinners.

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

We baked up a lovely piece of lemon, rosemary and garlic-scented sea bass to serve atop the veggies, and the only thing we wished we’d done was add some farro or another hearty grain to round everything out. You could also serve this with grilled chicken OR steak, or to keep it vegetarian, simply mix in some white beans or tofu.

The hardest part about these Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes is chopping up the vegetables you’ll be using. FO REAL. The maple dressing comes together in as much times as it takes to melt butter, and once the mix is in the oven, you’ll have enough roasted vegetables to last you at least three meals in just 30 minutes.

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

Before I set you loose on the recipe, I just have to touch on the maple dressing, because it is mmm mmm good and so incredibly easy. We simply melt high-quality butter in a small saucepan (I’m looking at you, Kerrygold) and, along with some pure maple syrup, we add in fresh rosemary, thyme and a dash of cayenne. We mix this deliciousness into the vegetables before roasting to give them a fantastic pop of herby, savory-sweet flavor.

Seriously, these Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes are my new go-to for as long as the weather in SB cooperates enough for me to tolerate turning on my oven for 30 or so minutes. They are a great healthy treat to prep on a Sunday and reheat for the entire week (a bonus to autumn vegetables is that they hold up well to reheating!) So grab your favorite protein and whip these up for a nutrient-rich dinner tonight. Healthy food never tasted so good!

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Print
Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Fall's best vegetables are tossed in an herbed maple dressing and roasted until golden and delicious.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 medium kabocha squash peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts halved
  • 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 8 tablespoons high-quality butter I prefer Kerrygold
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1 cup purple grapes halved
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Combine all vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. As the butter is melting, add the maple syrup, rosemary, thyme and cayenne. Whisk gently until butter is melted, then pour mixture over vegetables.

  4. Stir vegetables to evenly coat them with the maple dressing, then season with salt and pepper.

  5. Pour vegetables onto a large jelly roll pan. Place in 400-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes. 

  6. At 20-minute mark, add almonds and grapes, then roast for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

These vegetables also save and reheat well, so if you don’t want to eat them right away, you can store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. Just be sure to let the vegetables cool a bit before placing them in the refrigerator.

Maple Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Almonds and Grapes | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Eat the rainbow!!

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

I want alllll the fall veggies.

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

More particularly, I want all the fall veggies in the form of this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette. By now you all should know that I clearly have an obsession with seasonal, of-the-moment kale salads. I started out the year with my Winter Kale Salad, back in January, then in April we had my Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing. Of course by then I had to hit all of the seasons, so in July I brought you my Summer Kale Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette, and now it’s time for this fall version to shine.

Yea, yea, kale’s been the “it” superfood for a while, and I’m well aware that some say they can’t come around to kale salads because of kale’s toughness and heartiness, but friends, let me tell you, just accept the kale for what it is. You see, kale’s resiliency means that it can beautifully absorb any dressing, if just given a little bit of time. I, for one, LOVE kale salads because I can prep them the night or morning before I plan to eat them (dressing and all) and they won’t be a wilted pile of nothing by the time I get around to eating them.

In fact, IMHO, kale salads just get better with age, and this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette is no exception. An overnight sit (or even just a few hours) really allows the dressing to not only soak into the kale, but it also allows all of the other ingredients in this delicious dish to meld together, a perfect balance of salty, hearty and sweet.

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

So by now I bet you’re wondering, what exactly makes this kale salad a FALL Kale Salad? And to that I reply “Ohhhhh so many things.”

First and foremost, acorn squash. We give this fantastic source of Vitamin C a little roast in the oven (skin and all!) first, because now that it’s fall we can actually turn on our oven for a bit without overheating our entire house.

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Secondly, BACON. Being the bacon-lover that I am, I see this as a fairly integral part of this dish for the crunchy little bites of saltiness it adds to the mix, but if you want to keep it vegetarian or vegan, feel free to (a) leave it out or (b) throw in some coconut bacon (speaking of, does anyone have a good recipe for this? I’ve been dying to try it.)

Thirdly, sliced Brussels sprouts. But there aren’t just ANY Brussels sprouts, my friends. These receive a glorious little pan fry in the leftover grease from cooking the bacon. Don’t think about it, just do it. You won’t regret it.

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Now it’s about time to add in that little bit of sweetness to really give this Fall Kale Salad the ultimate flavor balance. Enter, persimmons! Yes, it’s that time of year and this fairly-recent-lover of the antioxidant-packed fruit couldn’t be more excited. Before making this salad, I’d only enjoyed persimmons fully pulverized into a puree and baked in my MIL’s famous Persimmon Cookies, but when I saw them at the Farmer’s Market this early in the season, I just had to have them. The farmer selling them assured me they were perfectly good to eat as hard and crunchy as they were and, boy, was he right! I eagerly tossed some sliced persimmon into the mix.

We also add some small slices of fresh shallots to give the dish a little pop. I love adding these small bursts of flavor to my salads (much like fresh herbs!) because they really add that extra dimension and take it from “just a salad” to amazingness.

Finally, because I can’t NOT put nuts into my salads, I threw in some toasted walnuts. You could also use pecans, but we do that quite frequently here in our household and I wanted to throw in something a little special and different. Plus, my hubby likes eating them for his heart health (so cute.) It’s a win-win!

We toss all of this goodness with a super-easy, four-ingredient balsamic vinaigrette. We’re talking olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Incredibly basic, I know, but in all honesty it’s how we enjoy most of our salads, so I figured, why not?

Lastly, we cannot call this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette complete without a little shaving of Pecorino Romano over top. That’s it! So easy, and so delicious.

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

This is exactly the type of meal the hubs and I like to eat on a Monday night. I don’t know about you, but we often take Monday as our day to detox and reset after what are frequently weekends of indulgence. It’s a great way to get back to our balanced lifestyle after a couple of days of fun, and sets us up for a great rest of our week.

So get thee to a supermarket (or better, Farmer’s Market) and snatch up all of these seasonal, delicious Fall Kale Salad ingredients before they’re gone for another year. Remember, don’t be afraid to make the salad a couple of hours (or even a day) early to really let the kale marinate in the dressing and allow the flavors to come together. Let’s start this week off healthy, delicious and feeling good! XO

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

A delicious kale salad showcasing the best ingredients of fall, tossed with an easy balsamic vinaigrette.

Ingredients

    For the salad:
  • 1 acorn squash, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 1 large bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 persimmon, cut into quarters and then thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 2-3 ounces thinly shaved Pecorino Romano
    For the vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. First, roast the acorn squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place acorn squash slices on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil. Season squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pan in oven and roast for 10-15 minutes (flipping squash slices after about 7 minutes), until squash is golden and tender to the touch.
  2. Next, cook the bacon. Place bacon slices in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and cook until browned and slightly crispy, flipping halfway. Place cooked bacon on a small plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Once cooled, chop the bacon into small pieces.
  3. Using the same pan you cooked the bacon in, pan fry the Brussels sprouts. Keep the saute pan on medium heat (do not wipe out the bacon grease) and cook the Brussels sprouts until golden on all sides. Turn off heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl. Add the acorn squash, chopped bacon, and Brussels sprouts. Next, add the persimmon, shallot and walnuts.
  5. In a small bowl, mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients together using a whisk or fork. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. For best results, let salad sit in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
  6. Shave Pecorino Romano on top of salad before serving.

Notes

Wine Pairing Notes: The beauty of kale is that it's hearty enough to stand up to fuller bodied wines. This salad will pair just as well with an oaked Chardonnay as it will with a light, juicy Pinot Noir.

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Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Here’s to our health!