Harvest Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing

October 17, 2017 | | | | |
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5 from 1 vote

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Harvest Kale SaladI want to preface this post by saying that the fires in Napa and Sonoma last week were absolutely catastrophic. There was an enormous loss of life, and the effect on residents, visitors, and businesses is immeasurable and heartbreaking. These communities will be rebuilding for a long, long time, and they are in desperate need of our support. If you have any money or time to spare, here are some sites that provide a number of wonderful ways to help:




The following recap of my experience with Logan last week is simply a personal story about our minimoon. I created this blog to be a space where I can (over)share my life and food with no holds barred, and I need you to know that my recounting the following (extremely trivial) anecdote is in no way meant to diminish the fires’ devastation or belittle the experiences of people affected. SORRY TO BE SO INTENSE, but I want to be as sensitive as possible here.  


Your weird blog lady

Hello from the other siiiiiiiiide!

It’s been a while, but I’m back, and I’m now a married weird blog lady. I feel same, same but different, if you know what I mean.

The wedding was glorious and magical (and all my other favorite adjectives), and even though my memories from the weekend are smushed together into one giant adrenaline/happiness blur, marrying Logan was easily the highlight of my life to date. I was Buddy the Elf-ing for three straight days, and my face actually hurt from all the smiling. Definitely should have incorporated facial exercises into #fitnessjourney, but hindsight is 20/20.

I promise to do a full wedding recap at some point for those interested, most likely when I get the glamour shots back (this one is just the tip of the not-remotely-posed iceberg!!!), but today I thought we’d chat minimoon because…

It was a total fucking disaster. 

Harvest Kale SaladAnd I loved it. Let’s dish.

My roommate and I are doing a true honeymoon next summer, but we decided to take a few days off after the wedding to sleep, decompress, and spend some QT as a mawwied couple before reentering the real world. We figured Napa was the perfect place to do all of these things, so we booked a room at Carneros Resort and Spa, and hopped a post-pool party flight from Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon.

Just to be clear, Logan and I were in a rather fragile state on Sunday. Deeply exhausted, slightly tipsy, and filled with equal parts gratitude, love, and sadness (it’s sad when it’s all over!), we were capital E-motional. We both cried in the airport. Once we made it to Napa and checked into Carneros, they were so wonderful and welcoming that…I cried. In our romantic little cabin, we discovered a bottle of champagne and a really nice note from my dad. I cried. Logan ran me an outdoor bath. I cried. We looked at some photos people had posted from the wedding. I cried. Then I ate mac and cheese in a bathrobe and passed out from all the crying.

Circa 2:15 a.m., I was woken from a deep sleep by someone pounding on the door. Thinking it was housekeeping, I mumbled, “Please come back,” and rolled over. Then I heard someone burst in, and when I opened my eyes, I could make out a figure in the dark at the foot of the bed. “There’s a fire nearby and we’re evacuating the hotel,” the shadow said. “Please pack your things and get out immediately.” Needless to say, this was worrisome, but we weren’t really that concerned. They were probably being overly cautious, no? Still, we quickly threw our stuff back into our suitcases and went outside. Much to my horror, the smell of smoke was thick in the air, and the sky glowed orange.


I’ve watched enough Rescue Me and Chicago Fire to be appropriately terrified of fire, so I was just a tiiiny bit panicky at this point. We were sitting in the lobby, bleary-eyed and confused, waiting to be shuttled to a local shelter when a very nice couple approached us (wassup Jasmine and Barry?!) and asked Logan if he was able to drive their rental car to the shelter. (Barry was not a good driver to begin with, and he was too upset to get behind the wheel.) In the car, Jasmine had the presence of mind to start calling hotels about an hour outside of Napa and booked us two rooms at the Marriott in Walnut Creek. Hallelujah!

Harvest Kale SaladAfter arriving at 3:30 a.m., we dozed for 5 or so hours before plotting our next move. Unsurprisingly, all the hotels within a 3-hour drive had been booked due to the mass evacuations from Napa and Sonoma, which made things slightly challenging. Given that it’s IN Napa, I’m not sure what on earth spurred a call to Auberge du Soleil, but we somehow ended up on the phone with the very soothing manager, who assured us that they were outside the fire zone, had plenty of rooms (and wine) available, and although they were currently without power, they expected it to be restored soon. SOLD.

It was clearly a rather stupid idea to return to Napa, but we were tired, dammit, and had yet to let go of our wine country minimoon fantasy. We rented a car, which did not take hours or cause Logan to have any meltdowns (on opposite day), and headed north once again.

There was still no power when we arrived at Auberge, but there was a beautiful if somewhat hazy view, so we sat and drank champagne before retiring to our room to empty what was left in the hot water tank into the bathtub. (#selfish)

Then it got dark. Like really, really dark because of the whole no power thing, and we noticed that we could now smell the smoke inside. Appropriately concerned, we made our way up to the lobby with flashlights to ask if there were any updates. Turns out, most of the guests had checked out and since the fires had yet to be contained, they recommended we do the same ASAP.

So once again, we gathered our thangs and hit the road to snag the only available hotel room in San Francisco. It too was at a Marriott! So comforting and familiar!! As soon as we checked in, Logan accidentally locked himself in the bathroom. I tried to rescue him solo, but even with my fitness journey muscles, I couldn’t unstick the door and had to call in maintenance for the assist (as soon as I was able to stop laughing). Once Logan was freed, we rounded out our day with a very fancy meal of cheese and crackers in bed. It was romantic.

We got an early start on Tuesday thanks to hotel construction and set off for Sausalito to spend the remaining two nights of our minimoon at Inn Above Tides. It was smoky AF, but we made it out to a delightful dinner, happily drank all the champagne, and terrorized our hotel’s wine and cheese hour before returning to SFO. (Where Hertz informed us our rental car was actually 4x the rate they quoted us, and our flight was delayed three hours.)

Harvest Kale SaladAll in all, almost everything that could have gone wrong on our minimoon kinda did. And yet, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder or loved my roommate more than I did last week. ‘Twas the BEST worst mini moon ever! (Plus, it will be an excellent story for our future puppies kids.)

Given all the wedding/minimoon sleeplessness and my strict champagne and cheese diet, I’m currently doing my best to get my healthy groove back. I’ve dragged myself back on the early morning yoga train (insert eye roll emoji), and I’ll be hitting the morning smoothie and midday salads pretty hard for the foreseeable future. This Harvest Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing is one of my fall go-tos, and I’m thrilled to have it on deck for this week’s sassy desk lunching.

Tender, massaged kale loaded with roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, pepitas, and pomegranate and drizzled with a slightly sweet and nutty tahini dressing is Basic in the best possible way. It’s loaded with flavor and nutrients, keeps really well in the fridge (wait to drizzle with tahini until serving), and just happens to be vegan and gluten-free. If you’re not a tahini fan, I also love this salad topped with pesto or dressed with the vinaigrette from this kale salad. You do you, friends.

Harvest Kale Salad

Harvest Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing

Author - Serena Wolf
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 -6 servings


  • 1 small head cauliflower florets removed (roughly 4 cups florets)
  • 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and sliced into ¾-inch cubes (approximately 4 cups cubed squash)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bunch curly kale washed, center ribs removed, and chopped (about 8 cups chopped kale)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup pepitas toasted
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup tahini well mixed
  • ¼ cup tablespoons water plus extra for thinning the dressing
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Place the cauliflower florets on one of the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then spread the cauliflower in an even layer, leaving a little bit of space between each floret. (This will help them get beautifully caramelized and crispy.) Briefly set aside.
  • Add the butternut squash cubes to the remaining prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with the cinnamon and a good pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Spread the squash in an even layer, again, leaving a little bit of space between each cube.
  • Transfer the cauliflower and butternut squash to the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until both are tender and lightly browned in spots. Stir the squash once halfway through the cooking time. (The cauliflower will caramelize better left undisturbed.) Let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the kale. Place the kale in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with a good pinch of salt, then give the kale a little massage. Literally rub the leaves between your fingers, massaging the oil and salt into the leaves, until the kale darkens slightly in color and becomes tender. (This will take 1-2 minutes.) Set aside.
  • Next, toast the pepitas. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pepitas to the pan and cook, shaking the pan regularly, until they are very lightly browned (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Time to make the dressing. Whisk the tahini and ¼ cup water until very smooth, then whisk in the lemon juice, tamari, and maple syrup. If necessary, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dressing is thin enough to drizzle. Taste and season with a little salt or extra maple syrup if needed.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower and butternut squash, toasted pepitas, and pomegranate arils to the bowl with the massaged kale. Toss to combine. Serve drizzled with the desired amount of tahini dressing. (I recommend drizzling the salad with half the dressing, and then allowing individuals to dress their servings as they like.)

p.s. Thank you to all those who reached out with congratulatory messages, concern for Logena’s safety, and generally hilarious commentary on Instagram last week. I’m sorry I didn’t respond to everyone, but you made us feel extremely loved and kept us laughing, so THANK YOU. Virtual koala hug.

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  1. Joy on March 22, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    5 stars
    Best dressing ever!

  2. mimi rippee on October 18, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Wow. OMG. Jeez. i would just shit if I was woken up at a hotel and told to evacuate!!!!! So glad everything turned out okay for you two.. seriously a perfect story for you to tell, but also bittersweet. My neighbor here lost her vineyard. And there were hundreds more. So sad.

    • Serena Wolf on October 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      So so sad, Mimi. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. And honestly, it feels trivial writing about our experience given the circumstances. xoxo

  3. Susan Stone on October 17, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I am amazed that you survived your minimoon and still sound like your usual, sane self. One thing’s for sure: having that kind of experience with someone you love helps save the day. That’s one of the things I’m really liking about being married. Together we can get through anything. I think I need your salad to help decompress from our trip to San Antonio (we head home tomorrow), because we’ve had too much food and good beer. Now if only I could get my husband to eat kale…

    • Serena Wolf on October 20, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      I agree that tackling things together (forever!) seems like the greatest marriage perk. Hope you had a fabulous trip and that you get in a little kale even if the husband boycotts it…

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