My boyfriend has a "kale face".
It's a cross between disgust and horror and he makes it every time I tell him I'm about to feed him something with kale in it. Which is...approximately daily.
He started making it while we were on vacation this summer when I kept waxing poetic about my favorite leafy green and how I missed it SO.MUCH (no, really, you have no idea - I was inconsolable) and how I was probably going to buy five bunches of it when we got home and just...cuddle with it for a while. You know...before force feeding it to him for literally a week straight in order to cleanse us from all of the majorly not-Joanne-approved food we ate. Hence the face. And now it's just become...a thing.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I just really needed to drive home the point that kale and I are pretty much soulmates. So, even with all of this joking I've done about only serving a heart attack on a plate for Thanksgiving, you didn't really think that was true...right?
I know a lot of people see Thanksgiving as a time to just stuff themselves silly with everything they wouldn't normally let themselves eat. But the truth is, that even if I wanted to do that...I couldn't. Typically about 3/4 of the food served at this holiday is not vegetarian-friendly, between bacon crumbles, chicken broth, sausage, turkey fat, etc. So my motto is pretty much that if I want to be able to eat it, I just need to make it myself.
There are a ton of people with dietary restrictions out there who are in the same boat. And not just people who are choosing not to eat a certain subset of food, but those who actually physically cannot without making themselves sick.
Being that today is World Diabetes Day, and since this is a disease that affects SO.MANY. members of our society, whether they have it themselves, have a family member who has it (my grandfather had it!) or spend every waking moment of their day staring at fat cells in a tissue culture dish and trying to find out how insulin convinces them to pull glucose out of the blood and what exactly goes wrong in this process when insulin resistance develops (ME ME ME!)...I thought I'd post a recipe today that was not only diabetic-friendly, but also vegetarian-friendly, and gluten-free! It really is perfect for the food-restricted Thanksgiving table.
I had a salad similar to this one at a restaurant called Northern Spy this past spring and it really was one of the most revelatory things I've ever eaten. The kale was perfectly dressed in a lemon-parmesan vinaigrette and the winter squash added the just the right amount of sweetness to counterbalance it. I've been meaning to recreate it ever since, and was thrilled to see an extremely similar recipe in last year's Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit. This recipe differs from the dish I had only in that in addition to the kale, shredded brussels sprouts are added into the mix, giving the salad a bit more body and texture. The best thing about this salad is that, since kale and brussels sprouts are much sturdier than lettuce is, you can dress the salad ahead of time and it will only get better as the greens start to absorb the flavors of the vinaigrette.
So if you have a dietary-restricted individual attending your Thanksgiving, I truly think this salad would be the perfect dish to have on the table. And even if you don't, but just want to serve at least one thing that is a bit on the lighter side - this is it.
For more information about World Diabetes Day and for an AWESOME GIVEAWAY of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, head on over to Carolyn's blog - All Day I Dream About Food. Carolyn was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her third pregnancy that, even though she is a SERIOUS runner and generally healthy person, turned into type 2 diabetes. Proving that the development of diabetes is not only about health, fitness, and BMI but also about genetics and factors that we can't control. Carolyn has never let that get her down, though, and she continues to cook absolutely amazing diabetic-friendly food and treats over at her site! It's definitely an amazing resource for anyone who is afflicted by this disease.
Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Serves 8-10, adapted from Bon Appetit November 2011
- 1 medium butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large bunches of Tuscan or lacinato kale (1 1/2 lb), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
- 12 oz brussels sprouts, shredded
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, with skins, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup finely grated parmiggiano-reggiano
- Preheat oven to 400. Place butternut squash cubes on a parchment-lined roasted pan. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
- In the meantime, combine the lemon juce, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend, set aside to let the flavors meld.
- Mix the kale and the brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
- Slowly whisk the olive oil into the lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to the kale mixture and massage it into the kale for about 2-3 minutes or until kale has reduced in volume. Add in the almonds, butternut squash, and cheese. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.