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Ring Around the Kale, with Butternut Squash and Romesco Sauce

Squash-fest is officially here! Woot, woot. Or, at least, that is what I like to call October and November 😉 I absolutely adore winter squash. And I’m not just talking pumpkin, people. I roam around in the supermarkets and farmer’s markets and hunt for the weird stuff. The knobby ones, green-striped ones, blue-shelled ones, dusty ones, 10-lb-er ones. The ones you think are just for decoration. I view it as my duty to roast ’em up, and eat them with a slather of almond butter and maple syrup. Ahhh, dreamy.

But, alas, don’t worry. This recipe doesn’t call for any strange squash (although, I fully support you if you want to use up a hubbard or fairytale pumpkin)- it calls for the ubiquitous butternut squash. The sweet creaminess of the butternut jives beautifully with the oniony rice (which is buried beneath the mound of squash), and the steamed kale. 

Here is the ring before it is properly dressed. (Cover the children’s eyes!)

I made an amaaaaaazing sauce to drizzle on top: romesco sauce. I’m talking highly addictive, I-will-1000%-make-again, I-want-to-eat-with-everything kind of sauce. So what is it exactly? Romesco sauce is a traditional Catalonian (a.k.a. Spanish) sauce made of almonds, tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic. As with any traditional recipe, there are a thousand variations, some using mint, hazelnuts, dried peppers, bread as a thickener, more oil, etc. 

In my romesco research, I just stumbled across something called a calcotada, which is an event that celebrates the harvest of the spring onion, or calcot. People flame roast the calcots and then dip them in romesco sauce. Mmmm. Maybe I will do that…

The romesco I made was adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe. I reduced the oil (by a ton!) and excluded the parsley. The sauce is made of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, roasted almonds, garlic, EVOO, smoked paprika, cayenne, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. A seemingly odd combo, but I promise, this sauce is what dreams are made of.

I served this dish with lentils and pinot noir. And it’s Boyfriend approved, too!

Ring Around the Kale, with Butternut Squash and Romesco Sauce
Serves 4


  • 1 medium butternut squash (only use half)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 10 oz bag of chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt + pepper
Romesco Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (don’t leave out!)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Spray with oil and salt and pepper. Bake cut-side down for 40 mins, or until a fork can easily pierce down to the skin. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is baking, start the rice. Mix rice, stock, and onion in a medium-size pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer, covered, for 45 mins, or until rice tastes done to your liking. Add salt and pepper.
  3. While the rice and squash are cooking, prepare the kale. Over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large sautee pan. Add kale when oil is heated. Stir to coat with oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for 10 mins, or until kale is tender.
  4. Make the romesco sauce. Add first 7 romesco sauce ingredients to a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Take half of the cooled butternut squash. Save the other half for other uses (soup? snack? smoothie?) Scoop the squash out of the shell, or if the squash is very well-cooked, peel off the skin. Slice it into half moons.
  6. Assemble all of your hard work. Using a large round serving platter, mound the rice in a circle in the center of the dish. Spread out so that it is 3-4 inches from the edge. Take the kale and line it around the edge of the platter. Cover the exposed rice with the squash. Drizzle on the romesco sauce. Happy eating!

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