autumn kale salad with pumpkin vinaigrette in bowl

autumn kale salad with pumpkin vinaigrette

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Friends, I’m really excited about this salad! I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to try a pumpkin vinaigrette, but all I can say is I’m happy it’s in my life now and I’ll be eating this autumn kale salad all season. Roasted cauliflower and red onion, shaved parmesan, and toasted pepitas with a cayenne kick – it’s savory and spicy and the tiniest bit sweet. The perfect flavor combination in salad form.

The Thanksgiving countdown is on. We leave for a quick trip to California soon (for Ian’s regular MRI/follow-up appointment with a neuro-oncologist there), and will get back one day before Thanksgiving. In the meantime, I’m preparing the dishes that I can make in advance and relying on kitchen therapy to relieve some of the “scan-xiety” that always hits with an upcoming MRI. Kitchen therapy and lots of prayer, that is. Ian’s brain MRIs every two months have been stable (meaning no change) for almost a YEAR and that’s something we are especially grateful for. But the scan-xiety is still there and it’s REAL, and we try to overcome it by focusing on the fact that God’s got us and He is in control.

So, the Thanksgiving prep is in full force here in the Cooper house and this autumn kale salad will for sure be on the menu. Do you ever feel sorry for the obligatory, overlooked salad on the Thanksgiving table? I always go for everything but the salad and tell myself I’ll get some on my second go. That has literally never happened. Rest assured, this autumn kale salad is right up there with all the other dishes on the YUM scale so it won’t be an afterthought!

the pumpkin vinaigrette MAKES this autumn kale salad

True statement. While I love a chopped kale salad, especially tossed with roasted bits of garlic, onion and cauliflower, the pumpkin vinaigrette is key here. I use a bullet blender (or a high-speed blender), as it’s the best way to blend the pumpkin into the olive oil. My one attempt with a bowl and whisk resulted in a really sad, goopy and separated mixture. Go with a blender. 😉 Combine all your ingredients, blend, taste, and you’ve got a pumpkin vinaigrette that is tasty, sugar-free and low-carb.

  • pumpkin purée
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • pumpkin pie spice (or your own ground cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger/clove combo)
  • powdered stevia (or low-carb sweetener of choice)
  • maple extract (optional )
  • water

let’s assemble the autumn kale salad

Here’s what you’ll need for the kale salad:

  • fresh bunch of kale
  • small head of cauliflower
  • red onion
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • fresh thyme (optional)
  • nutmeg
  • garlic powder
  • salt + pepper
  • ground cayenne
  • raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • shaved parmesan

step 1

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Remove the cauliflower stem and chop the head into small, bite-sized florets. Dice the red onion. Mince or chop your garlic cloves. Combine the cauliflower, onion and garlic in a large bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the vegetables with chopped thyme, salt and pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg, then pop it into the oven to roast for 15-20 minutes. The vegetables will be done when the cauliflower is tender with slightly browned bits.

step 2

While the cauliflower and onions are roasting, toss the pepitas in your remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Add in the ground cayenne, salt and garlic powder. Combine well and then transfer to a baking sheet. You’ll toast these during the last 5 minutes of the cauliflower roasting time.

a knife and chopped kale for autumn kale salad

step 3

After rinsing the kale, cut the stems off of each kale leaf, also removing the stems from the center of the leaf. (Here’s a quick “how-to” from America’s Test Kitchen.) Chop the kale leaves into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Spoon pumpkin vinaigrette on top of the kale, tossing so the kale is evenly coated in the pumpkin vinaigrette (about 5-6 large spoonfuls). Set aside or in the fridge to keep chilled.

step 4

After the vegetables and pepitas have finished roasting and have cooled for about 10 minutes, arrange the cauliflower/onion on top of the bed of kale, and sprinkle on the pepitas and shaved parmesan (if you’re cool with dairy). Serve and enjoy!

servings of autumn kale salad with pumpkin vinaigrette

is pumpkin keto-friendly?

Surprisingly, pumpkin is pretty low-carb and high in fiber which means your net carbs per pumpkin serving can usually stay low enough. For instance, one cup of cubed pumpkin has about 7g net carbs. Considering most pumpkin recipes are primarily using pumpkin for flavor and not in large amounts, a keto diet can include some pumpkin without pushing you over your carb count. The pumpkin vinaigrette served with this autumn kale salad only requires 1/3 cup of pumpkin purée and that’s for a total of 6 servings, amounting to less than one gram of carbs per serving (of the vinaigrette). Pretty good, right?

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autumn kale salad with pumpkin vinaigrette

Course: salads, sides, main courseCuisine: low-carb, keto, gluten-free, vegetarianDifficulty: easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Roasted cauliflower and onion, toasted cayenne pepitas and shaved parmesan make this autumn kale salad with pumpkin vinaigrette hearty and flavorful. Plus, it’s low-carb and keto-friendly!

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin purée

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 tsp powdered stevia (or monkfruit/erythritol)

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

  • 1/4 tsp maple extract (or use maple stevia and eliminate powdered stevia)

  • 1 tbsp water

  • Autumn kale salad
  • 1 head cauliflower, small

  • 1 bunch fresh kale

  • 1/2 red onion

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, separated

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 3/4 cup pepitas

  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • shaved parmesan (omit if vegan or dairy-free)

Directions

  • Place all the pumpkin vinaigrette ingredients in a blender, except for the water. Blend on high for 1 minute. Taste and adjust, adding more stevia for sweetness or more salt/pepper/spices, more vinegar for tang, etc. Add water to thin, if needed. Blend after adjustments and set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 425°F. Remove the cauliflower stem and chop the head into small, bite-sized florets. Dice the red onion. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, red onion, and minced garlic. Drizzle in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing the vegetables so they’re evenly coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the chopped thyme, salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (save remaining 1/2 tsp for pepitas) and nutmeg on top of the vegetables. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender with some slightly browned edges.
  • In a small bowl, toss the pepitas with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, the cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Transfer the pepitas onto a baking sheet and spread them out. Toast them in the oven during the last 5 minutes of the vegetable roasting time.* When the pepitas and vegetables are done, let them cool for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the kale leaves and remove the stems, cutting around the stems all the way up into the center of the leaf. Discard the stems. Chop the kale leaves into small pieces and place in a bowl. Spoon pumpkin vinaigrette on top of the kale, tossing so the kale is evenly coated in the pumpkin vinaigrette (about 5-6 large spoonfuls). Set aside or in the fridge to keep chilled.
  • Arrange the cooled vegetables on top of the bed of kale, sprinkle the pepitas and shaved parmesan, and serve. You will have leftover vinaigrette to serve on the side.

Notes

  • Pepitas can quickly burn so make sure to start with 5 minutes toasting time and add an additional 1 minute at a time if they need to toast longer.
  • If vegan or dairy-free, substitute the shaved parmesan for nut cheese or vegan cheese option.

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