Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Pearl Barley and Kale Salad

Unpacking our holiday luggage, we found the small bottle Maple Syrup that we bought in Vermont.

Chantal likes to have salads for lunch at work, but the catering options are pretty abysmal. Making a big batch at home on Sunday is an ideal solution for the remainder of the week!

She looked for healthy salad recipes with maple syrup and soon landed on a freekeh based one she found over at Well Plated. Already rightfully praised by Erin herself on Well Plated, this salad turned out absolutely delicious and easy to make: Maple roasted butternut squash, sautéed garlicky kale and nutty pearl barley, all tossed together in a zingy maple and Dijon mustard vinaigrette and topped with toasted pecans, dried cranberries and chopped flat leaf parsley.

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Minor adjustments to the original recipe were the obvious use of pearl barley instead of freekeh (simply because I couldn’t find it in the shops). However, all slightly “chewy” whole grains would work wonders in this salad. Also, I swapped walnuts for pecans and tweaked the amounts of kale, garlic and Dijon mustard based on personal preferences.

In our opinion the subtle interplay of sweetness and acidity is the star of this salad. The taste of the maple syrup is instantly recognizable yet doesn’t add too much sweetness to either the squash or the dressing, which on its own packs quite a punch and brings the whole dish together. I ended up using quite a bit of dressing as the dried cranberries I bought had been soaked in apple juice and therefore were not at tart as I hoped they would be. The salad stored very well in the fridge for 4 days and yielded 6 portions.

The recipe:

  • 1 (1,3kg / 1½-pound) butternut squash, peeled and diced in 2cm / 3/4″ chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp course sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp course sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 125 ml /½ cup olive oil

 

  • 200g / 8oz pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g / 11oz chopped kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp course sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 75g / ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 50g / ½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 210C / 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the butternut squash with the olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Then place the butternut squash on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the squash is tender and starting to caramelize.
  3. Prepare the pearl barley according to the instruction (mine were bringing plenty of salted water to a boil and then let the pearl barley simmer for 25 minutes. Then drain and set aside)
  4. For the dressing put the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil in a jam jar or mason jar, screw the lid on tight and shake vigorously until fully combined.
  5. In a large sauté pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, then add the kale in batches and cook for 5-6 minutes whilst stirring frequently until wilted.
  6. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg and crushed red pepper and cook for another minute.
  7. Stir the cooked pearl barley, butternut squash, cranberries into the kale. Pour enough of the dressing to slightly moisten the salad, toss gently to coat.
  8. You can serve the salad warm or at room temperature. In any case finish with some more dressing, some flatleaf parsley and the toasted pecans at the last minute. If serving at room temperature or if you store the salad it in the fridge for the later use, do not yet add the pecans as they will lose their crunch.

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Enjoy!

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