Poppy Seed-Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranates

First of all, I need to send out a huge thank you to everyone for your support these past couple weeks. Your emails and messages have meant so much and really kept me up. Yes, it has been an ‘interesting’ time in our lives, but we’re getting used to a new routine and doing things a bit differently…slower. I can imagine that this is very much the shock new mothers experience when suddenly they have a completely dependent person on their hands (good practice, Mikkel says). However, he is getting better and spirits are high. We are both looking forward to the day when he can feed himself and tie his shoes! See? It is like having a baby, albeit a very big one.

So I’ve been coping by going for walks. Long walks. As the man can now move his fingers and send text messages, I’ve been able to leave the house for periods of time and he calls me back if he needs something. This is progress.
My walks are glorious, and I have been experiencing autumn on an entirely new level this year, since I am normally racing past it on my bicycle. We had a couple weeks straight of bright, low, blinding sun, which has now been replaced with storybook fog. Thick, soupy mist clinging to every golden leaf and moody canal reflection, turning the world into a giant watercolour painting. Guh. Stunning.
 I’ve been so moved by the riot of tones and textures on the forest floor and cobblestone streets, I made a dish to echo them all. Poppy Seed-Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranates, with a Maple Mustard Dressing is indeed autumn on a plate.

This dish combines some serious fall power-players when it comes to nutrition, and not coincidentally, are excellent choices for preparing the body as we head into a long winter. Another good reason for eating seasonally.

Butternut Squash
– one of the best plant food sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This helps preserve normal eyesight and may help to minimize the risk of cataracts. Butternut squash can help ward off those pesky cold-weather infections, but can also protect against cancer, stroke, and heart disease. [1]

Kale – the richest source of carotenoids in the leafy-green vegetable family, making it a top cancer-fighter. Kale helps to regulate estrogen, protects against heart disease, and regulates blood pressure. The calcium in kale is more absorbable by the body than milk (and ounce for ounce, contains more calcium than milk)! This makes it an excellent choice for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, arthritis and bone loss. [1]

Pomegranate – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard time and time again how antioxidant-rich this fruit is. But you may not know that the jewel-like seeds also contain iron, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, and a good dose of fiber. [1]

There is something to be said for living in a city that truly embraces eating seasonally. You just can’t get asparagus here in February. No peaches in May. Kale comes and goes in a matter of weeks in Copenhagen, so I am eating it up like a greens-starved maniac. And that goes for the rest of the ingredients: butternut squash and pomegranate are around from now until the New Year and then we bid farewell until next time. But what I discover every year that keeps me intrigued, are all the combinations of those seasonal foods that seem to mingle so effortlessly.

This dish was a great example of that. Even though I was really trying to emulate that fall colours from a more artistic standpoint (‘cause I’m a big food dork), the flavours really complimented one another too. In therapy, I believe they call this the “ah-ha” moment. It’s why tomatoes and basil are best buds, or pumpkin and sage – the seasons blatantly present us with what tastes best together. All we need to do is open our eyes, get in the kitchen and experiment. No fear! I honestly was a bit worried about this mash-up, but happily, it’s delicious. Of course it is. Nature knows best.

Poppy Seed-Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranates
Serves 4
1 medium butternut squash
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. melted ghee or coconut oil
3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
couple pinches of sea salt

2 cups packed shredded kale
1 shallot
juice of ½ lemon
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of sea salt

Maple Mustard Dressing
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
pinch sea salt
1 tsp. pure Maple syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel the squash, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into cubes. Toss with oil, minced garlic, poppy seeds, and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until fork-tender, not mushy (approx. 30-40 minutes)
2. While the squash is roasting, shred the kale by slicing it in very thin strips. Add the juice of ½ lemon, a pinch of sea salt and massage into kale to wilt. Set aside.
3. Make dressing by whisking all ingredients together. Pour over kale, toss to coat.
4. Remove the pomegranate seeds. Fill a bowl with water, cut the fruit in half, then roughly pry out the seeds with your fingers and let them fall into the water. The seeds with white pith will float to the top – remove the pith as much as possible leaving the seeds, which will then sink.
5. When the butternut squash has finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Add to kale and mix. Toss with sliced shallot, pomegranate seeds, and garnish with lemon zest. Season to taste. Serve.

So life is a bit slower these days, and I’m actually grateful for that. This experience has forced me to be quieter, gentler, and more observant, leading me to look at being with a fresh perspective. If none of this had happened perhaps I would have biked right past the beauty of autumn, missing the confetti leaves scattered at the foot of the church, the shocking green of damp grass, the semi-bare branch of the tree, shivering just so. The walks are good. And when I come home to feed my husband? Well, that is even better.   

Sources: [1] Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York, NY: Penguin, 2003. 

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com


  1. Gabrielle

    This is just A-MA-ZING. Best recipe I’ve tried for quite a while. But then again, it seems everyhting here is quite a success. Thank you so much! Easy and delicious, I Love it!

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  5. Sasha

    I have butternut squash roasting in the oven as I right this and I’m excited to call this dish my dinner tonight.

    However, I just noticed that pomegranate is missing under the list of ingredients, as well as the amount.

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  9. Kayla

    This is STILL my favorite fall dish for potlucks, get togethers, and a week of amazing lunches. Thank you so much for this gorgeous, delicious, healthy recipe.

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  14. Donna

    This looks stupendous…Pomegranate…check…poppy seeds…check….butternut…check…but WHAA!!…NO kale in here in the French countryside…Could I possibly use spinach or chou frisé? Someday I hope to find it in the markets here!

    Oops..forgot to ask how much pomegranate to add for this dish of the gods!?..One half or a full pomegranate of arils?

  15. Donna

    This looks stupendous…Pomegranate…check…poppy seeds…check….butternut…check…but WHAA!!…NO kale in here in the French countryside…Could I possibly use spinach or chou frisé? Someday I hope to find it in the markets here!

  16. Vanessa

    I made this for our NYE dinner last night – this is the first kale salad I’ve ever made and am inspired to make more. I love the concept of this salad and want to try it again with a little less lemon as it was a bit too sour for me. Thanks for inspiring me to make a kale salad!

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  19. aunt crow

    This recipe is the one that introduced me to your site. Believe it or not, I googled “poppy seed encrusted” to see what would come up. I adore this salad. I make it every chance I get. I usually use delicata because the edible skin adds extra beauty and it’s my favorite fall curcubit. This time of year I make it for every gathering and party and it is always the star of the table and tummy. Thank you for imagining and executing this jewel!

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  23. maggie

    This is a keeper!!! Have been making it now for over a year. Every time my son comes home from University and is in desperate need of fresh vegetables…this is his and my absolute go to! A keeper i’ve shared with countless friends and some of his swim team friends who are looking for that raw healthy choice! Only sad thing is that good quality pomegranates become impossible for me spring and summer….

  24. Sarah

    just made this for dinner (with some quinoa to keep the boyfriend full and happy)… DELICIOUS!!! the flavors complement each other beautifully and my stomach is thanking me for eating the rainbow :):):)

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  26. Anonymous

    I am new to healthy cooking, and I am trying to learn to cook more. I couldn’t resist the pictures of this salad. It looked beautiful. While making it for a dinner party, my husband, looking suspicious, asked if I had any “regular greens”. I told him I would make him a “regular salad” if he wanted. When the dinner guests tried this and started raving, my husband gave it a shot, and declared it the best salad he had ever had! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  27. Anonymous

    I thought this was amazing! Hubby and I ate an entire head of kale. I left out 1 Tbs of the olive oil in the dressing and it was fabulous! I followed the recipe exactly except for that. Certainly one of the prettiest salads ever! I’m going to make this for my family for thanksgiving!

    I refer to your blog as “the blog that everything I make is awesome!,” whenever I give someone a recipe etc. Everything I’ve ever made from your blog (going on 16 recipes now) has been amazing and I’ve made each at least twice. Really.

  28. cutekittypunk

    i didn’t have butternut squash, so i used pumpkin, and i didn’t have poppy seeds so i used chia seeds, and i didn’t have maple syrup so i used honey… despite these changes – the recipe turned out very delicious 🙂 i ‘m in love with the combination of pomegrante, kale and pumpkin 🙂 so thank you thank you!!

  29. Iryna

    I was incredibly attracted to this gorgeous-looking salad, so I finally tried it today. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. I love all the ingredients going into this salad. I love kale. I love squash. I love pomagranate. I love poppyseeds. I love onions. However, they just didn’t seem to go well together. Garlic and mustard seemed particularly out of place. Also, adding pomagranate seeds doesn’t make much sense since you end up biting into them with your teeth and coming upon the hard middle. I ended up picking all the pomagranate seeds out of my salad and eating them separately. Sorry, I really, really wanted to like this salad, but I just couldn’t.

  30. hibou

    Guh! So good! We had it on black rice tonight. And we had the black bean cookies from the above post last night. Consider me an official follower.

  31. Farm Fresh To You

    I wish I could communicate how very beautiful this post is. I recently discovered your blog and could hardly tear myself away. As a family, organic farm and CSA in California,you struck a chord when you wrote about how seasonal foods mingle so effortlessly. It’s a lesson that never fails to thrill me each season.

    But you took this one step further and used photography to make this connection with color. I’ve looked at this post three times already. I just had to share it with our CSA customers on facebook and think they’ll be as enamoured as we are. http://www.facebook.com/farmfreshtoyou?sk=wall&filter=2#!/farmfreshtoyou/posts/301333319890917

    Many well wishes and fast healing to your family and thank you for such a wonderful blog. I anticipate cooking many wonderful things from the ideas you share.

  32. Anonymous

    Love your recipes! I just got the ipad app Paprika and i’ve asked them to add your site. Please join the service as im clippimg practically every recipe.

    … And no. I have no financial interest in Paprika.

  33. Maya

    Hi Sarah, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but haven’t commented until today. I wanted to say that this place is my favourite source of healthy meal ideas, I love finding out about all the great things the ingredients are doing for my body as I munch them! I made this salad the day you posted it, and my manfriend and I have decided it’s our new favourite meal, the flavours work so well together. I’m also going to be a complete nerd and just come out and say that I have made it about 5 times since then, and have spend copious amounts of time feeding it to my workmates and talking incessantly about it. Hmm nerdy. But anyway, keep up the good work! I look forward to more amazing recipes from you.

  34. Lauren14

    I made this last night for a squash-themed potluck. It was a really nice complement to winter squash-based dishes. I didn’t have poppy seeds or pomegranates on hand, so I nixed the former and subbed reconstituted dried cranberries for the latter. It worked, but I think the tarter pomegranates must be really nice, so I’ll try to use them next time I make this. It was really easy to bring this all together, looking forward to trying more recipes on your site!

  35. Adrienne

    I’m glad his recovery is going well! A dear friend received some bad news from the doctor so this post couldn’t be more timely. I’ve been thinking a lot about foods that heal. This dish couldn’t be more perfect. I just made a big salad with pomegranates for lunch today too.

  36. Anonymous

    I made this for dinner last night and it was so delicious and surprisingly easy! I loved your site! I made the beet rawviloi last week (and substituted pumpkin seed for pinenuts because of my love’s nut alergy). It was so delicious! I love making your dishes because I know that they don’t just feel special and taste amazing but they’re healthy too. 🙂 I have left overs today at work *I work in healthcare with a very health conscious bunch* and my colleagues were quite envious. 🙂

  37. Arielle

    Wow, this recipe is wonderful. I love poppy seeds, and I can only imagine how the sweetness of them is going to be with the coconut oil and the maple aspects all together with the savory goodness. I’m gonna have to make this my Thanksgiving contribution this year. Thanks!

  38. Nuts about food

    Glad to hear M is getting better. Add sleep depravation, sore nipples, endless crying and no words to communicate with and you will know what it is like to have a baby. Heehee. Beautiful dish with autumn colors.

  39. katie-anne

    i really love the opening pictures with leaves and this dish… perfectly autumnal. i was eating red kuri squash and kale yesterday thinking that i could eat this combination every day, so it’s exciting to have a new take on this and to learn how healthful these foods are. thanks again!

  40. Olga

    “‘cause I’m a big food dork” — So am I! Totally agree with eating seasonal, it’s always best from all points of view. I love asparagus but when I look at it at stores right now nothing in me wants it (maybe because it looks so tragic?).

    I am sad about kale, can’t even understand why I didn’t see it here in Stockholm. Strange… Do you buy it in regular supermarkets or on vegetable markets?

  41. Janet

    Sarah, your words are poetic and informative; your photos are gorgeous, and your recipe is simple, healthy and spectacular! These are all the reasons why I follow your blog and have referred many others to do so. Thank you for the fine work that you do! I’m so glad to hear that your husband is doing well. Fall is my absolute favourite time of year – glad you’re getting to savour it too.

  42. Iren

    “… is indeed autumn on a plate” – wow, that’s genious! I’m a art historian and that’s how you can move me… 😉 Your oictures are superbe, you hit the nail. I HAVE TO EAT THIS TOMORROW!

    I just looked at my butternut tonight and thought, that I have to go on your blog to see, what delicious recipe I can find. And I went to “my” farmer today and just bought this cale, that you used. So I only have to buy a nice pomegrante.

    Once more: THANKS!

    (And I love the way you help your husband and still take the time out for yourself that is possible.)

  43. Donna in Potomac

    Gorgeous colors! I was hoping you’d mention the benefits of poppy seeds – if there are any! I eat Chia Seeds, but am curious about the poppies. Glad you’re taking time to smell…shuffle the leaves 🙂

  44. la domestique

    I’m so glad your husband’s recovery is going well and you are enjoying the walking time for yourself. The recipe you’ve shared today is absolutely gorgeous and so inspiring, like seeing the season with new eyes!

  45. Elenore (E)

    Sweetness.. such wise words you share! I am glad to hear that things are moving in the right direction!(and your shoes are fab too;) You have very beautifully captured the similarities in your dish and our fall nature<3 Hope to meet you soon, Sarah! Until then, have many glorious & crazy days with your man and your walks!

  46. Sarah

    That is the most BEAUTIFUL looking dish! I am going to rush home and make it asap. I hate to admit this, but I’m almost 30 and have JUST tried kale for the first time a few weeks ago. I’m hooked! I have eaten it every day this week, and I am so glad you used it in this recipe! Love!

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