kale, kabocha, and pomegranate salad

Do you know kabocha? Butternut squash gets all the love these days but for me, kabocha is the best squash on the block. I fell in love with it when we lived in Japan (where pretty much everyone knows it, everyone eats it, and everyone loves it) and am so pleased to see it in the market more and more often here. The taste and texture are so very pleasing - velvety and warm without the tendency to slide toward being a bit .... wet (or slimy - if you are young enough to be unconcerned about tactless declarations) that is an unfortunate feature of most squash. To be honest, my favorite way to eat kabocha is steamed, mashed, buttered, with salt and pepper. That could be dinner all by itself and I would be happy. Variety is the spice of life - they do say - and so for a little variety I added kabocha to kale and a few other things. Turned out pretty good. 

Kabocha made a perfect addition to this powerhouse kale salad. Pomegranate, almonds, kabocha, kale and parmesan.  Sweet, crunchy, salty, smooth, crisp. A simple, perfect combination. I could eat this every day. Really! It was so delicious the night I made it and even better the next day - which is one of the things I love about kale salads. And look how pretty!

The parmesan could be exchanged for another cheese if you prefer - although I think that would be a shame since the parmesan was pretty perfect here but I have heard that some people don't like it. Strange. But a nice sharp cheddar would probably be almost as good.

kale, kabocha, and pomegranate salad

2 cups cubed, peeled kabocha (or other winter squash if you can't find - or don't like - kabocha)
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 5 cups)
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
arils from one pomegranate (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 425 F. Toss the squash cubes with about 1 Tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven until tender (stirring once or twice) - about 45 minutes. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl toss the kale with the pomegranate arils, almonds, cheese, and kabocha. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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