Dark Days: Kale & Arugula Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash
So, global climate change anyone? After this weekend (and again tonight–we’re having a thunderstorm now of all things), I’d find it hard not to admit that climate change is something to ponder. 65 degrees and sunny one day, massive snow storm the next…Who’da thunk.
Saturday, given the awesomeness that the weather was, G & I decided to get outside and enjoy the amazing-sunny-unseasonably-warm weather with a hike. We were thinking McAfee’s, but the parking lot was overflowing and no one likes a crowded hike, so we drove farther down 311 towards Dragon’s Tooth with hope that the trail might be less jammed. Part way there, though, I remembered that Tinker Cliffs had to be around there somewhere and I’d never hiked it, so why not?
G agreed. Oy. Turns out that Tinker Cliffs is one of the harder hikes in the area–1900 feet of climbing in less than 3 miles. But we survived and the view at the top was well worth it. From the cliffs you can see Peaks of Otter and McAfee’s and over towards Salem and Roanoke city. Incredible. But let’s just say that the evening post crawling back to the car was rather muted and involved a decent amount of ibuprofin and wine. It’s the little things that do a body good.
The next morning we awoke to cloudy skies and temperatures hovering around 45. Then it started, the snow. And it fell and it fell and it fell and it fell. And Dorian sat mesmerized by it all.
I couldn’t resist a run. I’m back in training mode for this year’s trail series and, though I’m starting with a 5K in two weeks, I really need to get the miles under me. Running on perfectly clear, warm roads with snow falling was liberating and just damn fun, the entire world turned into a grey and white cloudy mess.
I passed two other runners and two crazy-looking men fly fishing in the Roanoke River, but mostly I had the roads and the greenway to myself. Peace.
Back home I made what I craved–a salad of local kale and arugula, dressed simply in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, topped with a few raisins and cashews with some roasted local acorn squash. It’s one of those things that not only fills the belly but fills the soul–so green, so warm and savory, it’s a salad that feels nourishing in addition to being delicious.
The snow fell all day and all night and by morning the neighborhood was blanketed in six or seven inches. It was incredible, just looking around, knowing that, two days earlier, I’d been stripping down to a t-shirt while we hiked.
I could lie and say that all was still and quiet, but, the roads were plowed and everyone was trying to get to work–as I did too. But, at least, in that moment before I had to drop everything and get ready to leave the house, the trees glowed pink in the sunrise and some robins, despondent, flocked to the dogwood to wait for the afternoon’s melt.
Kale & Arugula Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash
Adapted from Design Sponge
1 acorn squash
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp aleppo pepper
1/2 bunch kale, leaves de-ribbed and chopped finely
2 c arugula
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 400.
Peel the acorn squash and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy part, place hollow side down on the cutting board, and cut 1″ semi-circular slices.
Place the slices in a mixing bowl and drizzle in the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the nutmeg, sage, and aleppo pepper and toss to coat. Place the slices in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Let roast for 10-15 minutes, then flip over to the other side and roast another 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the squash is roasting, place the finely chopped kale and the arugula in a mixing bowl. Pour the balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top of the salad and mix the dressing in with your hands, massaging the kale slightly to help it soften and break down. Set aside while the squash is roasting.
When the squash is done, plate the salad. Sprinkle a few raisins and cashews on top. Add a few of the acorn squash rounds, then sprinkle lightly with a pinch of salt and pepper.