Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

The latest edition of Bon Appetit is all about The South, declaring this region as the next big food trend. Well, duh, everyone says. Whether it means black-eye peas, fish fried with cornmeal or country ham, it appears the masses are turning their heads to low-country cuisine.

One ingredient I surely never saw at the Safeways of the Pacific Northwest is country ham. The super-salty cured pork steak that is so sodium-soaked that it almost burns. In fact, the packages aren’t even refrigerated!

I typically enjoy country ham added to cooking beans or something that allows the salt and strong porkiness to distribute. But this Bon Appetit recipe uses it as a little crouton (my title) on top of a salad made from thick kale, tart apple, sweet squash and a simple vinaigrette. Oh, and buttermilk drizzled over the top. Just for effect … and more.

I must admit that I am trying so hard to like squash, and I simply don’t. Still, you can see why roasted butternut squash is great in this medley – the acid of the lemon vinaigrette, the heartiness of the kale, the saltiness of the ham, the crunch of the apple and the creamy tang of the buttermilk. It all works and is full of good vitamins and minerals.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, which used mustard greens and a few other details I changed.

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 10 c. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups 1″ cubes peeled butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham, chopped
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
Method:
  • Gently rub greens with 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Let stand, checking often, until the greens begin to release water and soften, about 15 minutes. Rinse in two changes of cold water. Squeeze greens dry and pat with a kitchen towel; transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on prepared sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ham and cook until crisp, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Add squash, apple, shallot, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to greens.
  • Toss to combine; season to taste with salt. Divide evenly among plates. Drizzle with buttermilk. Arrange fried ham over. Season with cracked pepper.

Bon Appetit tells me that one whole salad contains less than 300 calories and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Nevermind the sodium.🙂

I’ve never had kale like this before and I think I had trouble getting used to its tough texture. But a bite that consisted of ham, the apple, the kale and the squash had a really sophisticated balance to it.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

4 responses to “Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

  1. Does the sweet apple and sweet butternut squash help mellow out the bitterness of the kale? Very interesting recipe, I love kale cooked but have never eaten it raw. BAM

  2. I used to have the same issues with the texture of kale in a salad, but two things have cured that: 1) I noticed that it improved after several hours of combining with the dressing, and 2) if you can get your hands on baby kale (as in our garden. . .) it’s tender as can be. Sow some tomorrow!

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