Rosemary for the win
When it comes to fall and winter cooking, rosemary is one of my favorite go-to’s. Its warming flavors capture the cozy weather vibes so well. I feel like kale and butternut squash with a generous sprinkle of rosemary is an ideal combo when it comes to fall cuisine.
And for the holiday table, dried cranberries and pecans are the perfect compliments to add a little nuttiness and tart sweetness to the mix. Pumpkin seeds add an extra crunch and extra fall vibes.
It’s a tried-and-true combination, so when I was coming up with my holiday menu, it was a no-brainer to add this salad to the mix.
Rosemary to the rescue
But I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with the dressing. I thought about going tart, I thought about going sweet. I even considered doing a creamy almond dressing. But none of them really hit home.
As I hinted at above, I do love roasting my squash with rosemary, however. And then it hit me: rosemary dressing. Duh! I’ve never been one to go fancy with my salad dressings – I used to hate salad dressing – so I wasn’t entirely sure what direction to go.
But then rosemary vinaigrette came into being and pulled the dish together so well. And of course, it’s pretty simple!
Health Benefits of Rosemary
I absolutely adore rosemary. This member of the herb family has flavor profile that is hard to pin down. It’s closely related to mint but with a very different flavor: it has a warming, slightly bitter, almost pine-like taste. Sometimes when I bite into it I swear I can taste butter. But that might just be my taste buds wanting it taste butter…! 😉
And rosemary just looks so cute, kinda like the needles on a pine tree! It’s pretty much the most festive edible addition to your dishes, and delivers all the dish-elevating flavor you could hope for.
And good thing it tastes so good, because although the small quantities typical of a single dish won’t deliver a significant nutritional boost, the regular addition of rosemary to your dishes will allow the benefits to accumulate.
Here are some of the ways rosemary benefits your health:
- Mood and stress balancer. It improves mood, clears the mind, and relieves stress in those with stress hormone imbalances. More, please!
- Boosts Immunity. Rosemary contains active compounds that are anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant, and perhaps most importantly, anti-inflammatory. Win-win-win. These anti-inflammatory benefits are the most notable: the antioxidants carnosol and carnosic have been associated with reducing inflammation of muscle tissue, blood vessels, and joints.
- Improves Digestion. Rosemary also soothes digestive upset, including constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and upset stomachs.
- Memory Booster. Research into the benefits of rosemary on memory is ongoing, but it has historically been used as a cognitive stimulant and has more recently been linked to cognitive stimulation in elderly patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Detoxifier. Rosemary is a mild diuretic, meaning it can aid in flushing out toxins during urination. In addition to helping eliminate toxins, pathogens, salts, and even excess fat when consumed regularly, it has been linked to improved liver health. Rosemary consumption is linked with faster healing time of the liver, which is one of the slowest organs to heal, as well as lower levels of cirrhosis.
- Skin health. Rosemary, particularly in its essential oil form, contains anti-aging benefits and helps to heal blemishes and maintain clear, hydrated skin.
Rosemary also stimulates blood flow, acts as an analgesic (pain reliever), and works as a breath freshener. Basically, what doesn’t it do…!?
How to Use Rosemary
- To Maximize flavor, cook with it. Add it to your dishes: bake with it, garnish, sautée, sprinkle it into soups and stews, and rub it into meat dishes. Basically, use it in every way you can think of.
- To maximize nutritional value: don’t cook with it. Ok ok, that’s totally contradictory. But cooking does reduce the benefits, so add it toward the end of cooking, or do both: cook with it and garnish with fresh rosemary once you are ready to serve!
- People even use rosemary essential oils to deliver a concentrated dose of the goodness.
Warm Kale Squash Fall Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
Back to the salad. It does require a little oven and mortar and pestle action, so it’s not the quickest recipe I’ve ever done, but it’s still quite simple.
First I roast the chopped butternut squash, with – you guess it – rosemary. As the squash is roasting, I make the dressing and the rest of the salad. As it’s a warm salad, I heat the dressing in a pan then add the kale. At the end I toss in the cranberries*, pecans, and pumpkin seeds.
*A note on the dried cranberries. Frankly, I don’t eat much dried fruit these days because it contains a lot of sugar (natural sugar is still sugar). This salad works perfectly fine without it, but for the holiday table I add it in cuz it’s festive. Skip to keep it paleo-happy.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m pretty sure fresh pomegranate seeds would work really nicely too, and add a generous antioxidant boost to the feast!
Warm Kale Squash Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
A simple yet hearty and delicious warming salad with rosemary vinaigrette. Vegan, paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free recipe
Kale Squash Salad
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 bunch kale, washed and cut into smaller pieces I use curly kale
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries *optional. may replace with pomegranate seeds
- 1/2+1/2 tbsp fresh or dried rosemary
- 1 sprig rosemary optional
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the over to 400F. Places the chopped butternut squash on a pan and toss with the olive oil, 1/2 tbsp rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, checked and tossing halfway through.
While the squash is roasting, make the vinaigrette. Place the rosemary, salt, and garlic in the mortar bowl. Use the pestle to crush the garlic and rosemary and mash them together.
Slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil and continue to mash.
Transfer the dressing to a large pan and heat over medium. Add the kale, rosemary, salt and pepper and sauté a few minutes, until the kale is bright green and soft.
Turn off the heat and add the pecans, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries if using. Toss the ingredients together while the pan is still warm. The squash should be just about ready, so add that to the pan and toss all the ingredients together.
Transfer to plates and serve.
If using fresh pomegranate seeds, top with these at the end. I also sometimes add some sliced avocado at the end if I'm eating this as my meal.