Serves: 6-8 Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes
This salad tastes like fall. It has kale, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and pumpkin seeds, with maple cinnamon vinaigrette. I like to serve this salad while the sweet potatoes are still warm to give it that extra cozy feeling. I found this recipe from the roasted root blog and fell in love immediately. She uses roasted figs in this salad, but I prefer to leave those out. I altered her vinaigrette a bit because I couldn’t keep it from separating. This salad serves about 6-8 and will keep well in the fridge for about 3 days. When I make this recipe for myself, I leave the sweet potatoes on the side so I can easily warm them up in the microwave. If I am making it for a group of people, I toss all the warmed potatoes in right before serving.
Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette
Homemade vinaigrette is really easy to make, and you can change the flavors up to suit your needs. The basic formula for a vinaigrette is 1/4 cup acid (vinegar or citrus juices) + 1/2 cup oil (olive oil or canola oil) + 2 teaspoons emulsifier (mayonnaise or Dijon mustard). The emulsifier keeps the vinaigrette from separating too quickly because it holds the oil together with the acid.
- 1/4 c Olive Oil + 1/4 c Canola Oil (You can use all olive oil, but the canola helps cut the strong flavor of the olive oil)
- 1/4 c Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tbs Pure Maple Syrup
- 2 tsp Mayonnaise (For this recipe, I prefer mayonnaise as the emulsifier because the flavor is more neutral)
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Pinch Sea Salt, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together until well blended. I like to put all the ingredients in a 2-cup glass measuring cup then blend everything together with a hand-held immersion blender for about 1-2 minutes. You can also use a blender for 1-2 minutes, or hand whisk vigorously until the mixture is well blended. If the mixture starts to separate before serving, just give it a quick whisk or shake to blend it back together.
When I first made this recipe, I had never cooked with kale before, so I was a little intimidated. But once I made it a few times, I realized it is super easy. Kale leaves are tough and very chewy, so they need to be tenderized a bit before they are eaten raw. Here are some of my tips:
- Remove the leaves from the center rib first by folding leaf in half length-wise, then slicing down the rib to trim the leaf away. Here is a quick video that explains how to do this. Then, rough chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.
- Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette dressing onto the leaves then knead them for 3-5 minutes. The leaves will soften and wilt slightly. If you have not made the dressing yet, you can also use a few teaspoons of lemon juice and olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massaging the leaves breaks down the fibers and releases sugars that lessen the bitter taste of the kale.
- Set the massaged leaves aside to soften a little more while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Note: Baby kale does not need to be tenderized.
- 2 Bunches of Kale, 1 green and 1 purple
- 1 tbs Cinnamon Vinaigrette, or 2 tsp lemon juice + 2 tsp olive oil + pinch sea salt
Remove leaves from center rib and rough chop into smaller pieces. Place in large bowl and drizzle cinnamon vinaigrette over leaves. Massage leaves for 3-5 minutes, until just starting to wilt and soften. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Candied Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Pure Maple Syrup
- 1/3 c Chopped Raw Walnuts
- 2 tbs Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Pinch Sea Salt
Heat all ingredients in a small pan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts and seeds. This takes about 5-7 minutes. The nuts burn easily, so watch closely. Remove the pan from heat and spread the mixture out on a small plate. It will turn crunchy as it cools. Store in an airtight container for about a week at room temperature or about 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 2 tbs Olive Oil
- 2 Sweet Potatoes, medium-sized
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat oven to 415ºF and set aside a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and slice 1/4 inch thick rounds or chop into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
- Spread the sweet potatoes on the rimmed baking sheet and toss them with olive oil. Spread them out evenly on the sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake the sweet potatoes for about 15-20 minutes. I like my pieces soft with just a little crispiness to them. If you want them crispier, bake for another 10-15 minutes, checking so they don’t burn and flipping them as necessary.
Assemble the Salad
- Chopped and massaged kale leaves
- 1/3 c Dried Cranberries
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Candied Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds
- Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette
- Shaved Parmesan Cheese or Feta for Garnish
Place the kale leaves in your serving bowl, if you haven’t already. Top with the roasted sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, and the candied walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Gently toss then sprinkle the shaved Parmesan or feta for garnish. I prefer to serve with dressing on the side.