Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spicy Squash Salad with Chickpeas and Kale

And now, finally, a recipe. This is a bright, fresh main-course salad, a perfect balance of the deep roastyness of the squash and the fresh crunch of the carrots and the toasty crunch of the almonds and the profound umami mmmmm of the miso. It makes a lovely unwintery-feeling winter meal.

The salad is adapted from this wonderful Heidi Swanson recipe on 101cookbooks. I made it the way she wrote it all last winter, but this winter, in a fit of—what? high-protein, high-minded healthfulness?—I am swapping in chickpeas for the potatoes. I am also using carrots instead of radishes, but that’s just because only Birdy and I love radishes. I also use way more kale than she does, so it’s more like a kale salad with squash and chickpeas. But you don’t mind, do you?

Full disclosure: One of our closest friends is Moroccan, and he brings us back harissa that is so aromatic and deeply gorgeous, so bursting with the fragrance of bright preserved lemons and warm spice, that it actually lifts my mood just to open the jar. But all you can do is use the best harissa you can find. And if you can’t find any that tastes really good to you, I am convinced that a Thai red chili paste would be a delicious substitution. (In which case, I would likely head more in a coconut oil than olive oil direction.)

Spicy Squash Salad with Chickpeas and Kale

Serves 4 as a main course or 6-8 as a side.

2 delicata squash
(or about 3 or 4 cups of another kind of squash that’s been cut up and, if necessary, peeled)
1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and blotted dry with a paper towel
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white miso

1 tablespoon harissa paste 
(or to taste)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 or 5 robust leaves of kale, de-stemmed and finely slivered or chopped
1 carrot, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, fried (do this over medium heat in a small pan in a teaspoon of olive oil until the almonds are just browned, 2 or 3 minutes)

Heat the oven to 400. Cut the delicata squash in half length-wise, and use a spoon or melon baller to scrape out all the seeds. Leave the peel on, and cut the squash into 1/2-inch-wide half-moons.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, miso, and harissa. Put the squash in a large bowl with 1/3 cup of the miso-harissa oil. Use your hands to toss well, then gently stir in the chickpeas with a rubber spatula. Turn everything out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the squash is full tender, and everything is baked through and browned, about 25-45 minutes. (Sorry! It really kind of depends! That’s why the range is so darned big!) Toss once or twice along the way after things start to brown a bit.

In the meantime, whisk the lemon juice into the remaining miso-harissa oil. Stir the kale into the leftover dressing and set aside.

Put the warm roasted vegetables in a bowl and toss with the kale mixture, carrots, and almonds. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. That looks glorious (for me to have at lunch when everyone else is out of the house.) Yum!

  2. Totally off-topic, but very now and again, I like to go back and re-read some of your Babycenter blog entries! and the one I read today referred to Ben's "new friend Ava" and I thought I'd die from nostalgia.....

    1. thank you for being nostalgic with me! ava's mom was just over this morning, talking about how ava'd been talking about a game she and ben still play where they poke each other with toothpicks. so, luckily they retain some of their 3-year-old selves. . . xo

    2. I'm feeling very weepy and nostalgic, anyway, as my baby, my BABY turns 6 Monday. I die.It's such a bittersweet thing, isn't it? Anticipating all that's to come, but missing so much of what's past?

  3. nom nom nom nom.... SO making this.

    btw, did i tell you HOW MUCH we loved the candy wrapper puzzle? Triple heart, quadruple exclamation points! And how much we loved (love!) the colorku? we are on same game wavelength, my friend. keep 'em coming!

  4. Anonymous6:16 PM

    Yum. I've been experimenting with your Ultimate Kale salad, which we love, by adding roasted butternut squash cubes, halved grape tomatoes and toasted walnuts and leaving out the breadcrumbs. So, having headed in the kale/squash direction already am excited to try this combo (and wax nostalgic about and excellent trip to Morocco which I'm stunned to realize was 15 years ago. How is that possible).

  5. This sounds great! As long as I make something else for my kids. I too recall a trip to Morocco, a day trip from Marbella in Spain. The flavors in the food were amazing. I was in college at the time and limited to the less-than-adventurous cafeteria food.
    Off topic question... when you link to Amazon products, do we need to click through and buy immediately? I'm assuming if I wish-list it and go back to buy later you don't get credit? I ask because I looked up your post on Show Me a Story because I wanted to buy it and wanted to make sure you'd get the credit.
    Sadly, I am the only radish fan in this house.