Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina

The best way to get our daily dose of veggies!

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

I mean, who doesn’t want to get their Vitamins A and C and tons of fiber from a PIZZA? That’s right, carb-y crust and cheese included. How many times do I have to tell you I’m all about keeping things balanced? This Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina is nothing but.

If it were up to me, we’d have pizza for dinner at least a couple of times a week. I mean, I’ve certainly made quite a few insanely delicious variations here on the blog already (see this Pastrami Pizza, this Fresh Fig, Prosciutto and Burrata Pizza with Truffle Honey and this Chocolate Brie Dessert Pizza with Almond-Orange Shortbread Crust.)  It really is one of my favorite foods, but we gotta keep things in check and make sure we’re evening out that sort of dinner, which is a little more indulgent, with healthier stuff like broth-based soups and protein-packed salads. No restriction, just variation! That’s how I like to eat and I hope it’s the same for you.

That being said, if there were ever a “healthy-ish” version of the dish to be had, this Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza is it. So you don’t even have to feel one bit bad about whipping it up on a weekly basis! And thanks to Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe, you can make one pizza that easily feeds two one night, and another one with the leftover dough a few days later. Let me tell you, we were quite excited to whip out the extra dough and have a pizza ready in 20 minutes this weekend when we had so many better things to do than slaving away in the kitchen.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

With it still being winter (and with all the crazy weather we’ve been having in California – I don’t think it’s rained this much in yearrrrrs!) the root vegetables that top this pizza are the perfect thing to make you feel like you’re eating the ultimate comfort food while still getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that they’re known for.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

Looking at these likely drool-inducing photos, you may be wondering what those purple-looking things are. They’re the carrots, my friends! I spotted the tri-color bag at Trader Joe’s and knew they’d be the perfect way to jazz up the monotony of color that orange carrots would have provided. That being said, plain ol’ orange carrots would work just fine if you’re not looking to make your pizza super photogenic.

So let’s talk about the process of making the deliciousness that is this Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina. As I mentioned above, I used Jim Lahey’s popular No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe for the base, but you could easily use your own homemade pizza dough recipe OR even a store-bought, premade dough. Jim Lahey’s recipe does require an overnight rise, so plan ahead if you’re going to go that route. It also makes enough dough for two pizzas, but you can easily save one for later if you’re not feeding a crowd that particular night!

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

After the dough has gone through its overnight rise, the pizza comes together in no time at all. Simply roll the dough out onto your favorite pizza stone (or a pizza pan if you don’t have a stone,) add the toppings and pop it into the oven for 20 minutes. That’s all you need! Your delicious dinner will be ready for you faster than you can finish a glass of wine.

Speaking of wine, my mom is coming down to visit later today and I’m very much looking forward to catching up with her and enjoying a delicious glass of vino or two. We’re heading to check out a new, hip restaurant in Santa Barbara tonight, so be sure to check my Insta-stories for all the deets!

I hope you’re having a great week. Maybe bake up a little pizza tonight to get past the hump? Xx

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This easy pizza recipe is loaded with bright orange and purple veggies, all topped off with a hefty serving of slightly salty fontina cheese.

Course: Main Course
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 recipe Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough (or other pre-made dough)
  • 1 small sweet potato, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups grated fontina
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the cornmeal evenly over your pizza stone or pan, whichever you are using, then roll the dough out on the pan in a circular shape. 

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the fresh thyme, salt and pepper. 

  3. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the prepared pizza dough, then sprinkle on the minced garlic and then the grated fontina cheese. Top with the vegetable mixture. 

  4. Put the prepared pizza in the oven and bake at 450 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden and the cheese is melted. Remove, slice and serve as soon as it has cooled slightly.

Recipe Notes

Click here for Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

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!

Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles

Is everyone completely sick of pumpkin yet?Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles | CaliGirlCooking.com

I sure hope not, because today I’m sharing the recipe for this Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles, and it is all kinds of delicious.

Our lives are about to become a bit upended. The holidays are fast approaching, which means family visiting, kids out of school, and more parties and events than we can comfortably handle (but not like that stops us.) In a time of such indulgence and celebration, it’s important for us to stay rooted and focused on things that keep us sane, like home-cooked dinners full of nutritious foods, evenings spent at the kitchen table connecting with those who matter most.

This Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Papperdelle and Sweet Potato Noodles is the perfect, quick and healthy dinner to get us through these crazy times, to serve in those rare moments when we have a night with no open houses or company holiday parties. It’s full of nutrients, yet comforting and “homey” at the same time. The kind of meal your family will love without knowing it’s actually good for them!

Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles | CaliGirlCooking.com

The other great news is that this meal can be customized in sooo many different ways, for any sort of diet. It’s already vegetarian, but to make it vegan, just use a vegan pasta or omit the pasta altogether and double up on the sweet potato noodles. If you (or anyone in your family) is like my husband and needs some sort of protein with his meal, throw on a grilled chicken breast or shrimp. Gluten-free? Again, just sub in brown rice pasta or more sweet potato noodles. The possibilities are endless!

I also (shamefully) realized when getting this post ready that this is the first recipe I’ve shared here on CGC featuring spiralized vegetables. This is so crazy to me because we literally probably spiralize vegetables in some form or another for dinner at least one night a week. It’s usually in the form of zucchini, tossed with whatever vegetables we have on hand and some sort of lean protein.

There are endless possibilities for spiralizing, and if you’re curious about other ways you can use the technique, just head on over to Ali Maffuci’s blog, Inspiralized. She is the QUEEN of spiralizing and always has such great ideas. I’ve followed her for quite some time now and, although there are tons of options out there these days, hers is the brand of spiralizer we use. We’ve also bought it as a gift for just about everyone we know (ahem, Christmas is just around the corner!), and it’s always received rave reviews. If you need to pick one up for yourself and 20 of your closest friends, click here!

But let’s get back to this Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles! Because I’m pretty sure you should just make it tonight for dinner. You might also already have most of the ingredients on hand. Canned, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin puree, sweet, potatoes, pasta…all items that are likely living in your pantry around this time of year. The only fresh items you’ll want to go out and grab are a couple of tomatoes and a big bunch of fresh basil. Dinner will be ready before you know it!

Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles | CaliGirlCooking.com

I used a deep sauté pan to make the sauce (this is the exact one I used, which I have to say is one of my FAVORITE types of cooking vessels to have on hand) so I could just throw in the sweet potato noodles and cooked pappardelle and serve everything out of the one pan. So easy!

I cooked the pappardelle until al dente, but I threw in the sweet potato noodles raw and just let them simmer in the sauce for a little bit.

Once you have the sauce cooked and the noodles added, simply serve as is or top with your favorite protein (meatballs, anyone?) A little crusty bread on the side never hurt either 😉

Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles | CaliGirlCooking.com

Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles

15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

A healthy, quick and easy dinner to whip up during the busy holidays. Pappardelle and spiralized sweet potato noodles are tossed in a nutrient-packed pumpkin basil marinara sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato (optional – I used the leftover “nubs” from spiralizing the sweet potato noodles)
  • 8 ounces pappardelle
  • 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium high heat. Once oil is warm, add shallot and garlic. Saute until mixture starts to turn translucent and fragrant (about 5 minutes) then add diced tomato. Stir to combine.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, red wine, brown sugar, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to pan. Stir to combine, then stir in basil and diced sweet potato (if using.) Bring to a heavy simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. While sauce is simmering, cook the pappardelle. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add pappardelle. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until al dente. Strain immediately and set aside.
  4. Add spiralized sweet potato to the marinara sauce simmering on the stove. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, and then add pappardelle, simmering for an additional 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and serve immediately.

Notes

Wine Pairing Notes: Marinara pairs wonderfully with many heavier red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or an Italian red such as Barbera or Sangiovese. In all honesty, this dish will probably pair best with whatever wine you use to cook with, so don’t go for the super-cheap stuff!

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Easy Pumpkin Basil Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle and Sweet Potato Noodles | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Pumpkin – it’s what’s for dinner!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like:

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp

Fall has officially arrived in the CaliGirl Cooking household!

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

Seeing as Santa Barbara doesn’t see “fall-ish” weather until well into the month of October, it sometimes takes us a bit to get into cooking all of the fall things. One doesn’t necessarily want to be roasting squash or drinking warm pumpkin spice lattes when it’s over 80 degrees out!

But I’m happy to report that on Sunday night we got our first rain of the season, and now I’m officially ready to start gobbling up enough orange-hued foods to turn my skin a funny color in the next two to three months, like this Pumpkin Curry Hummus and these Butternut Squash Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage. But what do you say we kick off the binge with this Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp?

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

I can’t think of any other way I’d rather get my daily intake of beta-carotene and Vitamin A than in the form of this incredibly tasty one-pot meal. And really, I’m just the hugest fan of curry and can’t seem to get enough. It’s so healthy, yet so warm and comforting, the perfect cool weather dish. It’s also pretty darn quick and easy, so you really have no excuse not to make it for dinner tonight.

I made this last Friday and we proceeded to eat it alllll weekend. Which brings me to another bonus of this Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp: it reheats so well! Make a batch tonight and enjoy it for the next couple of days. If my experience is any indication, you won’t be able to get enough.

The hubs and I are going to be living on easy weeknight meals such as this for the next couple of weeks. It seems that the madness of the holidays has already started for us, and we’re traveling or otherwise busy just about every weekend from here until after the New Year.

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

This weekend, we’re headed to Napa for one of our multiple-times-a-year trips. We try to get up there every few months, and are so lucky that we have plenty of friends up there to visit and stay with. This year we wanted to make sure we got up there during harvest, so we squeezed it in to our already incredibly busy schedule. We’ve already gotten some great recommendations from our friends up in the area, but feel free to comment below with any places you think are can’t-miss!

After Napa this weekend, I’ll be back home for just a few days before turning around and heading back to the Bay Area to fly out to Oahu with my dad. We’re taking a little father-daughter food research trip and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be planning out our exact itinerary in the next few days (we got a lot of great recommendations from my cousin who lives there) but, again, if anyone has any great recommendations, please share! Even though I lived there for a few years right after college, it seems like there are a TON of new places that have sprung up since then that we cannot miss.

But let’s get back to this Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp, because it certainly needs its fair share of time in the spotlight. I once had a similar pumpkin curry at a cute little hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant in Los Gatos, and have not stopped thinking about it ever since. The most memorable thing about it? Well, not only did it taste absolutely phenomenal, it was also served in a hollowed out roasted pumpkin! It was so amazing. Every time you scooped some of the curry out, you got some of the creamy, roasted pumpkin flesh with it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Now, I haven’t been to said Thai restaurant in quite a while, but I dare say that this Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp is so darn close to the real thing. I’m actually pretty disappointed that we finished our leftovers already because I could REALLY go for some for lunch right now.

So what makes this a DOUBLE Pumpkin Shrimp with Curry, you ask? Well, not only do we stir an entire jar of canned pumpkin into the mix, but we also add some cubed, whole pumpkin. If you don’t like pumpkin, I’m sorry, this dish is probably not for you.

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

We’re using a combo chicken broth and coconut milk for the base, and throwing in some shrimp for good measure. But hey, guess what? Want to make this dish vegetarian or vegan? Easy peasy. Simply use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth and omit the shrimp. Never been simpler.

So, we throw most of the ingredients (save the shrimp for the last minute) into the pot, and add a healthy dose of curry powder. While that’s all simmering away, we get a second pumpkin (I used “pie pumpkins” from Trader Joe’s), remove the top and scoop out the seeds. Roast that in the oven and about 25 minutes later your serving vessel will be ready to rock and roll!

Finally, per my dad’s suggestion (because father always knows best), we make a “cheater’s roux” to stir in to the mix to get the curry nice and thickened up. Traditionalists gonna hate, but to make the “cheater’s roux,” all you have to do is melt the butter in the microwave and then whisk in an equal amount of flour. You’re welcome for that little nugget of wisdom (we’ll save the real roux for our Creole cooking.)

That’s it! This uber-delicious and incredibly aromatic Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp is ready in just about as much time as it will take you to roast the pumpkin you’re going to serve it in. Of course, you don’t HAVE to serve it this way, but I highly recommend you give it a shot at least once. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

Happy hump-day friends! May your day be bright and your curry be tummy-warming 🙂

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp

15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 3-4

An aromatic, warming curry featuring both pureed and fresh pumpkin and fresh shrimp, perfect for the cool fall weather.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive (or coconut) oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 4 teaspoons madras curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 small (or 1 large) tomatoes, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 10 ounces raw shrimp, tails removed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until mixture begins to turn translucent and becomes fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add cubed pumpkin, curry powder, cayenne and diced tomatoes, stir to combine and let cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium-high heat.
  2. Add canned pumpkin, broth and coconut milk to mixture. Stir to combine and bring to a heavy simmer. Add shrimp and continue to simmer for at least 8-10 minutes more, or until shrimp turns pink and opaque.
  3. While curry is simmering, make your roux. In a small microwave safe dish, melt butter, then whisk in the flour. Add to curry and stir to thicken. The mixture will continue to get thicker the longer it sits.
  4. Serve immediately or let simmer on very low heat until ready to serve.

Notes

To make the pumpkin serving vessel: Cut the top off of a medium pie pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle one to two tablespoons of olive oil inside the pumpkin and roast in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until it feels tender enough to scoop out with a spoon or fork. Ladle finished curry into pumpkin before serving. You could also use a few small pie pumpkins to make individual servings.

Wine Pairing Note: This curry has a little bit of spice, so a fragrant varietal such as Riesling or Gewurtztraminer would be a perfect pairing for the dish. These tend to have a touch of sweetness to them, which will help balance out the spice.

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Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Pumpkin for dayzzzzz.

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!