I love fall. I love fall so freaking much.
We’re only four days into this new season and I feel like I’ve never been happier in my whole entire life which is ironic because if you were to ask me how I felt a month earlier, I probably would have answered back that I was emotional, exhausted, and struggling to stay optimistic in what felt like the hardest months of my whole entire life. I would possibly even say that I didn’t know if I could continue down this crazy farm journey. I think you may have sensed that here, here and here.
But that all seems like years in the past now. The cool air on my face, the butternut squash by the crate load, our first ever sweet potato harvest, and the piles of fresh apples and cider from my friend Rami at Atoms to Apples orchard filling my fridge; I’ve got goodness in my future and balance in my days and anything seems possible. This is the way I like best.
Spring Lauren is fine, but she’s functioning at a level that I think I finally realize is unhealthy and will never make it to the end of the season. Summer Lauren is thus tired and burnt out, overwhelmed by struggle and fatigued by constant problem solving. Summer Lauren is just trying to make to it to September because fall Lauren is joyous and capable, excited for everything and endlessly busy in the kitchen.
At some point this fall I’ll dedicate some time to really tell you about the struggles of this past season, the lessons we learned, and the ways we plan to pivot, but not now. Now is not the time for reflection. It’s the time for gentle long runs on my healing body, new routines, new rhythms, roasted vegetables, visits with all the people I’ve desperately missed over the past several months, and making plans for our trip to Hawaii in three weeks!
How are you spending your first days of fall? Are they filled with joy or your own kind of crazy? I suggest opening some windows and letting the cool night air pour over you while wearing your favorite cozy socks and sweater. The crispness in your home will immediately bring some degree of peace and calm.
And then make this salad. Because no matter how busy it feels returning to school, managing the kids’ activities, or defining your own new rhythms, a pan of sweet roasted butternut squash, a drizzle of maple syrup, some fresh tart apples and chunks of sharp cheddar cheese will surely transport you to the moment in front of you. The beautiful, joyous, golden hours of fall.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH, KALE & APPLE SALAD
Serves 2-4 as a meal or 6 as a side
Takes 55 minutes, most of it inactive
1 cup pecans
6 cups cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch kale (curly or lacinato will work fine here), ribs removed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 sweet, tart apples (I used Liberty), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup 1/4-inch cheddar cheese cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use this time to dice all your veggies and cube your cheese and apples. That will take a little bit.
- Once the oven is preheated, roast pecans for 6 minutes until just beginning to darken and smell very fragrant. Set to the side.
- Pour your squash onto two baking sheets (this will get more caramelization than just putting it on one pan) and toss with maple syrup, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, rotating pans and scraping pieces from pan throughout roasting.
- Add kale to a large salad bowl. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and last teaspoon of Kosher salt. Gently massage for a couple minutes until the kale turns a darker shade of green and just begins to break down. Add pecans, apples and cheese. Toss gently to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.
- Once squash is done roasting, add that to salad. Pour vinaigrette over salad; if it had any time to sit, rewhisk to bring back together. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. You may want more salt, pepper, or maple syrup depending on your preferences.
- **If not eating the whole salad today, store the squash and dressing separate from the greens. I heated up my leftover squash the next day and dressed the salad right before eating.