Autumn Squash, Apple, and Kale Salad

The genesis for this salad is the seasonal menu at Taylor Gourmet, which features butternut squash-based salads in both main dish and side dish form. When I happened upon the menu earlier this week, I knew that I could create something similar at home.

Some of the measurements below are a bit imprecise. Just go with it - you'll need to figure out some of the quantities on the fly, depending on your own taste. I promise it will be worth it.

Autumn Squash, Apple, and Kale Salad

1 medium butternut squash
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
A sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
A few stems of Italian parsley
A handful of kale from the garden
1 granny smith apple
3 green onions
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 oz. blue cheese crumbles (gorgonzola or goat cheese would also working, depending on your preference)
Sunflower seeds (shelled)

1. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove seeds, then cut into small (1/2 inch) cubes.

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss squash cubes with a few glugs of olive oil and apple cider vinegar (enough that the squash is well-coated), salt, pepper, and rosemary. Spread out squash in a single layer on one or more cookie sheets or baking dishes.

3. Roast squash for ~25 minutes at 400F, stirring about halfway through. Depending on the size of your cubes, you may need to roast for a longer or shorter time. Cubes should be soft but not mushy.

4. While the squash is roasting, remove stems and thick center vein from kale leaves, then slice into thin strands. Dice the apple into 1/2 inch cubes and slice green onions into small rounds.

5. Remove squash from oven and toss (while still hot / warm) in a large mixing bowl with kale, apple, and green onion. The heat from the squash will soften the kale and apple a bit.

6. Mix in parsley, cranberries, and blue cheese. If desired, add olive oil and/or apple cider vinegar to taste.

7. Place in serving dish and top with sunflower seeds. Serve while still warm or refrigerate for later.