A delicious fall kale salad that’s full of flavor and showcases the best ingredients of the season, all tossed with an easy balsamic vinaigrette.
I want alllll the fall veggies. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the chopped kale in a large bowl. Add the acorn squash, chopped bacon, and Brussels sprouts. Next, add the persimmon, shallot and walnuts.
- 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.
- Shave Pecorino Romano on top of salad before serving.
- 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.
- Unlike many other salads, this one holds up fairly well over time so feel free to make it a bit in advance and let the dressing really marinate the kale.
- Feel free to use any of your favorite fall produce in this recipe!
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Here’s to our health!