Lunchbox: Audubon Kale Salad

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Audobon is a hidden gem of a gastropub located on Beacon Street in the non-descript area just over the bridge that crosses the Pike as you drive away from Kenmore Square but before you enter the heart of Brookline.  Located across the street from An Tua Nua, one of Boston’s sticky Irish bars, and nestled between a bike shop and BU student tenaments, it’s easy to miss. Even the interior is understated – simple wood walls and concrete floors with a long bar stretching most of the length of one side of the pub and black wooden tables against a long banquette down the other. A large chalkboard lists the featured tap beers and seasonal specials.

The food menu is small – 5 or 6 appetizers, a few entrees and salads, and a few sandwiches. But the small menu seems to translate into excellent and consistent quality. Some of the dishes rotate seasonally, while others are staples. One of my favorite staple appetizers is the pork potstickers. They are served 5 to an order in a Chinese food style takeout box with crisp snap peas, lotus roots, bamboo0 sho0ots, and water chestnuts. The mussels in spicy tomato sauce served with grilled Iggy’s bread is another tasty option.

My two favorite entrees are the salmon with homemade spatzle and Brussels sprouts. Spatzle are a small, dense German noodle that is boiled then sauteed in oil. The taste is reminscent of a tiny buttery dumpling with a carmelized exterior. I know them – and love them – from my travels to Germany and my Swiss brother-in-law, but they are an unusual side dish for the US. The other is the Kale Salad which is made with a chiffonade of both raw and cooked kale, roasted butternut squash, chopped almonds, and thinly sliced shallots, then topped with a vinagarette. It is so good that the last time I got it along with an entree and couldn’t finish it, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

So of course, I wanted to try to replicate it. And when there was a lovely bunch of Tuscan Kale and a butternut squash in this week’s CSA box, I jumped at the chance. The long narrow, relatively regularly shaped leaves of the Tuscan Kale were very easy to chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll up lengthwise like a cigar, then slice in very thin strips.) Once I did that, here’s h0w the salad came together:

  • Take half of the chiffonaded* kale and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil and roast at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes until lightly crisped
  • While the kale is roasting, seed**, skin, and cube a butternut squash. Toss with olive oil and salt.
  • When the kale is done, pull it off the sheet and put the butternut squash on the sheet
  • Roast at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes – The length will depend on your squash.
  • Chop 1/4 cup roasted, salted almonds
  • Thinly slice a shallot – paper think if you can
  • Toss the roasted kale, roasted butternut squash, and shallot together in a dish
  • Dress with a simple olive oil vinagarette
  • If eating immediately, add the almonds and roasted kale after dressing it and just before serving. Give it one good toss before eating.
  • If bringing it for lunch, keep the roasted kale and almonds separate until eating, so they retain their crunchiness

I’m not sure I’ve quite nailed the dressing, but the rest of the salad is pretty much spot on, and it’s still one of my lunchbox favorites!

 

*Is chiffonaded a word?

** Save the seeds! They are fabulous roasted with olive oil and salt.

 

 

 

 

 

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