Butternut Squash and Kale Salad


Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

Identity is this strange thing. The details by which we define ourselves can be as small as “basil lover” and as big as “American.”

Regardless of their size, we all seem to have very specific ones to which we cling. These are the details invisibly stamped across our chest.

For 23 years, my stamp was obvious. My proclamation of it was clear. My dedication to it was absolute. I was a basketball player.

In 88 days I will be 31. I will have spent the last eight years as something other than a basketball player. Seven of those years, I will have been a writer. Four of those years, I will have been a business owner. One of those years, I will have been a wife.

Suffice it to say, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about who I am and what I love. I have been thinking about the details that define me – big and small. For those of you reading this blog, I thought I’d share. And, I’d like to invite you to join me. Take some time. Think about the details that define you and share them with me in a comment below.

  • I love watching my husband make me coffee. I love watching him make me homemade soda, pour me a drink, and open my door. It’s not so much that I need to be pampered. Pampering is nice. But pampering can be paid for. Just go to a spa. It’s that I like seeing his desire to care for me.
  • I absolutely adore feeding people. I like being in the kitchen. I like trying new recipes and revisiting old favorites.
  • I crave words. Reading them. Writing them. Seeing the way they affect people. To turn a moment into a story that causes others to think and react is epic.

Wheat Berry and Kale Salad

  • I need my family. There are others who don’t feel the same necessity, but I do. I need to spend time with my husband. With my parents (both sets). With my brother. With my sister. With my grandparents. It gives me untold strength.
  • I am passionate about photography, seeing an image and capturing it with a lens makes me irrationally happy.
  • Eating out is one of my favorite activities. I’m particularly partial to eating out with people who believe in sharing. That way you get to try multiple dishes!
  • I think spending time with friends who fill me up is essential. Though sometimes, time can be hard to find. And then, I think it’s essential to be flexible, to fit in mini phone dates and quick texts.
  • I believe we learn the most from our failures.
  • I believe we are called to help others.
  • I believe Christ died for my sins.
  • I know I have some of the best clients a gal could ask for and it makes me feel darn lucky. I can’t imagine working with people who don’t have strong morals.
  • I take my steak bloody, my scotch straight, and my coffee black.
  • I enjoy hiking (as my body allows), the occasional round of hot yoga, and kickboxing from time to time. I am addicted to my FitBit and love pickup basketball.
  • I think manners are essential, especially when it comes to table etiquette.
  • I’m petrified of potholes. Really. Straight up nightmare status.
  • I consider naps an absolute necessity. I take one almost every day.
  • I struggle with being messy.
  • I’m the kind of girl who dances in the rain, watches the sunrise, and licks egg yolk off plates.
  • Loud noises make me nauseous.
  • Yelling makes me sad.
  • Listening to music while cooking is my jam. So are wood burning fireplaces, making to do lists, and turning the page of a real book.
  • I’m an absolute disaster when I’m hungry.

The last detail is what brings us to today’s recipe. When I say disaster, I mean it. Being hungry literally makes me sick to my stomach.

Which is why, I try never to be hungry, especially at a grocery store. If I feel like I need a bite to eat, I’ll typically drop by the deli counter for a half dozen Jo Jo potatoes. It’s a pretty inexpensive way not to get sick and to avoid making major hunger-induced impulse buys. In an attempt to be “healthier,” lately I have been getting a small salad if something looks good. It was one such salad that inspired this recipe.

Thank you QFC. I’m totally digging this Butternut Squash and Kale Salad. To give it a punch of protein, I added shredded chicken. And to add some zip, I threw in some finely chopped red onion. It. Is. Amazing.

It is great for weekday lunches and on-the-run dinners. But, it would also be a great make-ahead dish for a party.

Also – don’t forget to share your details!

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

(Serves 6 – 8)

1 cup wheat berries, cooked as directed
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
5 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup feta
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cups chopped kale

For the Dressing
1/3 cup balsamic
2/3 cup olive oil
2 TBS brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss squash and 3 TBS olive oil with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Heat remaining 2 TBS olive oil in a medium oven-safe fry pan. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken on one side (roughly 5 minutes). Flip chicken and slip fry pan in the oven. Bake until the center of each chicken breast registers 165 degrees (roughly 20 minutes).

Remove chicken from oven. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Using two forks, shred chicken. Let cool.

In a large bowl, toss wheat berries, butternut squash, shredded chicken, cranberries, feta, red onion, and kale.

In a medium bowl, whisk ingredients for dressing until fully combined and sugar has dissolved.

Gradually pour dressing over tossed ingredients, continuing to toss until thoroughly coated. Serve immediately or package in Tupperware for individual to-go servings.

 

P.S. Did you forget about sharing your details?

 

 


About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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