I hate kale. I really do. Well, at least I thought I did. One particular weekday while on a shopping outing with one of my best friends, a kale salad suddenly sounded so appetizing.  We stopped at Agricola, a farm to table restaurant in Princeton, NJ.  I'm not really sure what caught my attention about this particular salad that day, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the pickled pumpkin.  I'm a sucker for seasonality.  As much as I wanted to continue hating kale, this little unassuming salad forever changed my mind.  Those unexpected life changing moments, now include kale, and some local artisan ice cream (but don't get me started on that one).

    I always said that I would never post a recipe for a kale salad.  Almost every blogger on the internet has some version of kale salad and they each look more horrible than the next.  I would sneer, yes sneer. Who does that? No one likes eating kale.  It's peer pressure I tell you.  It's the same reason why every food blogger has a recipe for homemade granola (you know it's coming, it is inevitable).  I just can't help it.  It hurts a little to say this, but I'm going to tell you how amazing this kale salad is.  Yes, it is amazing and quite frankly I could eat this salad once a day, every day, for the rest of my life. But I am also going to tell you that you need to be making some pickled pumpkin too.  There in lies the difference.  I do understand if you still think I am deceiving you on the kale part, but at least believe me when I say how awesome pickled pumpkin is. Now go make some. No really. Quickly, because pumpkins are almost out and cookies, cranberries and eggnog are moving on in.               
    The key to this salad is in the dressing.  You all know that you need to massage your kale right?  If not, just ask any food blogger.  Massaging the acid and oil into the kale makes a world of difference.  In fact it makes it edible, imagine that.

    The scenery has changed a bit, and I am hoping everyday that this year will bring snow for my boys to play in.  I watch the world from my windows.  The bright red cardinal against the grey trees.  He moves to quickly.  I plan on setting out some food to capture his attention a little longer.  Time enough for me to change my lens and snap a few pictures.   

    We are resolved to activities inside, yet each week I dash off to the farm, always trying to hang onto our spring and summer routine.  At this point all that you can find are apples, kale, broccoli, cider, pumpkins, squash and popping corn.  It hurts to think that at the end of the month we will have to wait another three before asparagus, ramps and rhubarb will make their appearance.  But, no rush.  There is bread in the oven, slippers on my feet and several cups of hot peppermint tea to be had each day.  We build forts with couch cushions, pop big bowls of popcorn and grab as much sunlight through the windows as we can each day.  With the holidays right around the corner there will be plenty to keep mind and hand occupied until we can finally relax into those cozy winter days.      

Kale Salad with Pickled Pumpkin

Serves 2

4-5 stalks of Kale
1-2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
, toasted
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice from three limes
1-2 very small cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of pumpkin seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste

2-3 spoonfuls of pickled pumpkin chunks (recipe below)
shaved Pecorino Romano (optional)

Remove the stalks of the kale, tear the leaves into bite sized pieces and set aside.  Toast the pumpkin seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until they are fragrant and slightly browned.  In a food processor or blender add one bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves), juice from three limes, one or two small cloves of garlic, pumpkin seed oil, honey and salt and pepper to taste.  Process these ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.  Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing to the torn kale leaves and massage it into the kale.  Making sure that each leaf of kale is coated in dressing and giving it a slightly bruised look.  Add more dressing as required.  Divide the kale onto two plates and top with pickled pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds and shaved Pecorino Romano if desired.  Serve.  Store extra dressing in the refrigerator.

Pickled Pumpkin

one (4-5 lb) pumpkin (not the jack-o-lantern type)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup pure maple syrup
4 cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
8 peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic

Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes.  Sprinkle on a heavy amount of salt and stir to coat the pumpkin chunks.  Set this aside for 2-3 hours to draw out the moisture from the pumpkin.  Meanwhile prepare a water bath canner and sterilize 4 pint jars.  Place the remaining ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes.  Rinse the salt off the pumpkin chunks and pack them into hot sterilized jars.  Pour the hot brine over the pumpkin chunks, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.

*allow two weeks for the pumpkin chunks to cure before eating.



12/09/2013 1:01am

You're hilarious! I genuinely really love kale and actually have to stop myself from eating too much sometimes (too much of anything isn't good, even kale). I'm glad you came around :)

Love the idea of pickled pumpkin, I'll definitely be trying that soon.

12/09/2013 1:31am

Oh Sofia...come on you really don't like kale! hehehe :) Definitely give some pickled pumpkin a try. I would love to find out how else you would use it. I haven't really experimented that much with it yet, but if I only use it for this salad then I'd still be happy :)

12/09/2013 4:05am

Mmmmm, kale salads! They're good, really! I think I have at least 3 on my blog, though only one of them is massaged. The others are roasted or steamed, which makes the kale a little more tender in their own ways. Kale is actually ridiculously difficult to find where I live (though it's getting better) so I always gobble up as much as I can when I can find it. I'm intrigued by the idea of pickled pumpkin, I'll have to give that a try! And the lime / cilantro combo sounds amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

12/09/2013 11:46am

Ahhhh...see the Swedes must inherently know that kale tastes bad...just kidding ;) Now that I have been paying more attention to kale salads I'm going to have to try some of yours that are cooked.

12/09/2013 10:20am

Haha Sandra, I love your honesty. This pickled pumpkin has me intrigued. You always think of such fun and different things to pickle! Pinning this so I remember to make it :)

12/09/2013 11:47am

Don't you know you should pickle EVERYTHING at this point :) Pickled pumpkin...you will like it Chris :)

12/09/2013 9:29pm

Haha, too funny. I don't have the same issue with kale and actually find the salad recipes I come across just inspire me further -- like this one! Also, I've discovered that citrus does a wonderful job of softening kale (almost like a ceviche effect breaking it down somewhat so it is not nearly as fibrous and difficult to digest) and it tastes delicious too. Your pickled pumpkin sounds like a delightful addition to me -- glad you came out :)

Enjoy your boys, the flashes of red from the window and your warm peppermint tea - xo.

12/09/2013 9:53pm

Thanks Kelly! I think you are right...I did come out! hahah :) I'm trying to enjoy all these days before Christmas...I know the craziness is only a few days away :)

12/11/2013 11:30am

I used to feel the same way about kale until we began growing it in our garden and it wouldn't stop. We had to eat it almost everyday to keep up with it not taking over and I became so used to eating a kale salad for lunch that I feel lost without in these winter months when everything is buried in snow. And yes, I will never get over the idea of massaging any sort of food, but it really does do wonders for it's texture and makes it edible!

12/11/2013 1:37pm

I can't believe I am saying this, but I think I might have to start growing more kale in my garden now that I've developed a liking for it :) I'll just have to make sure I have plenty of pickled pumpkin available too!


I'm so psyched that you've come around to kale! I freakin' LOVE it. It's really good raw on sandwiches in place of lettuce -- really, you won't be grossed out, trust me.

12/12/2013 6:01pm

Wow...I guess I really am just late to the kale party. It actually does sound good on a sandwich but what I think that I love most about this salad is the dressing that is on the kale. I'll give it a try though because I trust you :)

Paty Guerrero
12/12/2013 5:49pm

Could I use this recipe to can fuyu persimmons, minos garlic? thanks

12/12/2013 5:59pm

You might possibly be able to do that. I did happen to find another food blogger that made pickled fuyu persimmons...check out her recipe and you might be able to substitute some of the ingredients.


(Or just do a google search for "Pickled Persimmons")

12/14/2013 8:31pm

Thank you.

12/14/2013 8:31pm

Thank you

12/14/2013 4:07pm

This salat looks perfect for tomorrows lunch - thanks for the nice inspiration.

12/14/2013 7:18pm

Hi Annette, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Hope you enjoy the salad. I have been having it for lunch for the last few days :)

12/20/2013 11:51pm

Love Kale-- easy to grow if you have a cool/cold area. Loves the freeze or a cool summer. I grow it in the winter in the central valley and in the summer at the coast.

12/22/2013 8:21am

Now that I found a way that I like to eat Kale I think I might start growing more of it. I'll definitely be picking up some seeds for spring.

12/28/2013 10:23am

If I had the opportunity, I'd eat 2 salads. They seem great.

SJ Smith
07/26/2014 4:22pm

The squash & pumpkin season is upon us! I'm just discovering pickling; and started wondering how different a pumpkin and cucumber were to pickle. After all they're in the same plant family. I just made 4 day sweet pickles, and I'm thinking the process should be similar. I have a nice pumpkin from a volunteer plant and no use for it at the time being (and a year old kale plant too!).

May I ask how these came out after storage?
Did they store well (or did you eat them up too quick to find out ~ lol). I am looking for something that should store a year in the pantry. Thanks!

btw - great blog!

11/03/2014 3:12pm

Sorry for the late reply SJ. The pickled pumpkin stored very well. I actually have one last jar to open from last year and I'm looking forward to it. Thanks!

SJ Smith
11/03/2014 8:40pm

thank you

08/27/2015 12:43am

yummm. the kale salad i looking very delicious. the pumpkin pickle is great.

08/27/2015 2:33am

i love to eat pumkin and must try for this reciepe.


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