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Friday, 9 December 2016

Foodie Fridays: Winter Jewel Salad

Continuing my attempt in staying healthy over the colder months (in Scotland, quite a lot of them!) here is another squash-based salad creation.

Full disclosure: This came after several days of pizza and other similarly unhealthy stodge :(
More carbs for the carbs king!

So, I started with Kale and Butternut Squash, two of my favourites, but wanted to prepare them a little differently to how I would normally (boil and roast) them.

I'm using chestnuts again here, mainly because I love them, but also because they seem so seasonally correct.

What's probably not widely known (certainly it was not by me) is that it's also the correct season for pomegranate, which is the reason for the 'jewel' in the title.

Courgette isn't seasonal sadly, but I also find them an excellent addition to most dishes.

This is the point when 'healthy' starts to look a little of an exaggeration, mainly because I'm going to sauté the kale and squash in butter... not much butter though!

Here's most of the base ingredients, I'd already started cooking

Ingredients list

(I've given up exact measuring, and tend to just go by eye. I'll tell you what I used for two of us, but then I had leftovers too)

  • Brown long grain rice
  • Butternut squash
  • Kale
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Chestnuts (pre-cooked and peeled)
  • Courgette
  • Lemon
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (unsalted)
  • Pul Biber (optional)


  1. Start by washing the brown rice, put in a lidded saucepan and adding 3 parts water to 1 part rice (you want to strain the rice rather than being left with no water, such as when cooking basmati for example). Place on a high heat and as soon as it starts bubbling (or just before if you've a slow electric cooker like me) turn right down to the lowest heat. Cook for at least 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. Peel and dice the butternut squash quite small (I used half a large squash) and sauté on a medium heat for about ten minutes stirring regularly. Also add a pinch of pul biber (red chili flakes) if you're using it and some salt and pepper if needed. Keep a lid on your sauté pan or put a large lid over your wok/frying pan.
  3. Once the squash has started to soften add the diced courgette. I used just one courgette for the both of us. Keep the lid off and stir regularly.
  4. Wash, chop and remove the large stalks from the kale. I used most of a large pack of kale, probably around 150 g but could easily have used more. Roughly chop/half the chestnuts and add them too. I used a 180 g pack of chestnuts. Add some more butter if needed. (pictured above).
  5. Turn up to a higher heat (not too high) and keep stirring until the kale wilts. Hopefully by this time the rice will be done, drain it, and add to the pan, which after a minute you should remove from the heat. Grate the lemon zest. Add the pomegranate seeds (I used one entire pomegranate). Splash over a good amount of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Drizzle some olive oil.
  6. Serve warm.

Replacements or additions for larger groups

If you'd prefer to stay seasonal or indeed can't find any courgette then I think that (Jerusalem) artichoke would be the best possible alternative, but then it's not easily available near me whether seasonal or not. So, I'd also suggest mushrooms or leeks as an easier alternative or possible additions.

Indeed, for a large group or a bulkier meal, I'd suggest adding a red onion with the squash, some halved Brussels sprouts with the courgette or kale (depending on how softened you like them, earlier is better from my point of view/taste).

For extra crispness, perhaps adding diced red/yellow/orange (bell) peppers or the more seasonal sliced chicory leaves when you add the pomegranate seeds.

And if due to some crisis there isn't Butternut Squash, perhaps roasting some parsnips and carrots would be an adequate replacement.

Apart from the splash of lemon juice and balsamic, I don't think it needs any additional sauces, but would be interested to hear about an experiments.