Pumpkin salad surprisingly has been my biggest challenge so far. In trying to conceptualize the dish I made a few decisions very early on...
- I’ve never been a fan of warm salads, but this had to be one, because raw pumpkin es no bueno
- Texturally pumpkin gets mushy no matter how it’s cooked, so I needed a way to prepare it so it would maintain its shape for the most part.
- I didn’t want it boiled
- I didn’t want it roasted
- I didn’t want a pumpkin dressing
So what then? I came up with the idea to shred and quickly sauté it. Shredding it makes it small enough that a quick sauté would cook it without rendering it mushy. So then came the flavor, bbq chick peas for crunch, sweet cranberries a hint of garlic and the vinegary punch from some balsamic seemed like a good combination. I had initially decided on spinach as the greens, however the grocery store was out and I managed to snatch the last bag of kale they had left. So that was it, warm kale and pumpkin salad with cranberry balsamic dressing, garnished with bbq chick peas.
It sounded good on paper but would it taste good? As I was cooking I must have tasted everything each step of the way one thousand times. I had to be very careful with the balsamic vinegar I didn’t want to overpower the entire dish with an acidic flavor. Thank heavens it turned out really nice. And honestly I was surprised, the pumpkin and cranberry give a nice sweetness the kale is slightly crunchy, balsamic brings a nice acidic balance and the crunchy bbq chick peas on top are a lovely finish. The only thing that could have made this dish better was some bacon. As I was eating it I kept thinking how awesome this salad would be on a burger....Light-bulb!!
Ingredients (Printable Recipe)
1.5 cup shredded pumpkins (raw)
9 stalks of kale
½ cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 table spoon water
1 small shallot chopped
2 table spoon salted butter shallots
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
BBQ Chick peas
1 can chick peas
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ tsp. liquid smoke
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic power
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp. honey
1 tsp. garlic paste
- Start with the BBQ chick peas, drain, wash and pat dry chick peas
- In a bowl toss together chickpeas and all the other ingredients (under the BBQ chick peas ingredients list)
- Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy, about 30 to 40 minutes
- While the chick peas are baking shred pumpkin
- Wash the kale and remove the stalks (only use leaves) chop very finely
- Chop shallots, cranberry’s and grate two cloves of garlic
- In a sauté pan, melt butter, add dried cranberries cook and render their sweetness
- Add pumpkin and garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add balsamic vinegar and water to deglaze the pan, then immediately toss in the kale
- Sauté the for 3 -4 minutes until the kale starts to wilt and reduces in volume, (the kale will still be crunchy but not be as tough as when raw)
- Serve and garnish with the crispy BBQ chick peas
- If your making this for more than two people, feel free to double all the ingredients, except the balsamic vinegar, increase this in 1/2 tsp increments not a full table spoon
- The measurements above for the bbq chick peas make enough to garnish 4-6 salads.
- I used Curly kale not Dino Kale, make sure to use only the leaves
- If you don't like or don't have balsamic vinegar, just replace with fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice or leave it out.