My lunchtime meal often involves a salad of some sort. It’s easy-to-transport and leaves me feeling satiated until close to dinnertime. The act of making a salad is so ingrained into my daily routine; most of the ingredients in my pantry and fridge can be used as toppings.
Creating a sense of balance between crunchy to sweet and everything in between is my idea of a perfect salad. Then there is the vinaigrette or dressing. I cringe when I watch someone hover over a salad bar ladling buckets of ranch over their greens, suffocating under the white goo. The rule for me is there should be enough vinaigrette to coat, but not so much that the greens become salad soup.
While stocking up on some weekly essentials, I came across a giant bag of chopped kale. I was looking for a break from the usual romaine or iceberg options and thought the hearty green would be a perfect alternative. It’s considered a super food after all.
I picked up a few additional ingredients including raisins, sweet potatoes and a red onion. A package of pecans also made its way into my cart and promptly became candied pecans a couple of days later. While the kale was pre-chopped, I still needed to spend a few extra minutes picking out several stem pieces from the bag.
When you read through the instructions, it might seem unusual to massage kale with your fingers. But, it’s well worth the effort as the fibrous leaves breakdown and absorbs the flavors from the olive oil. Plus, your hands are left silky soft.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad with Honey Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
1 large sweet potato, peeled
4 heaping cups fresh chopped kale, stems removed
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
2/3 candied pecans (recipe)
3 Tbl. olive oil for roasting and kale
salt and pepper
Honey Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
1 Tbl. lemon zest
¼ (about 1 lemon) lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1 Tbl. honey
¼ tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dice the sweet potato into ½ inch cubes and add to a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle two tablespoons olive oil on the potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with your hands until well coated and spread evenly on the pan. Roast for 8 – 12 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the potatoes are fork tender. Allow to cool slightly before adding to the salad.
While the potatoes are roasting, add the kale to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil across the top. Using your hands, gently massage the kale to allow the oil to soak in and tenderize the leaves. Set aside.
Chop the candied pecans with a sharp knife or keep pecans whole for extra crunch. Add the pecans, red onion and pecans to the kale.
Pour enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the ingredients. Add more as needed, but be careful to not overdress the salad.
For Vinaigrette: Whisk ingredients together in a medium-mixing bowl until well combined. Or add ingredients to jelly jar, tighten the lid and shake as hard as you can until well combined.