A sweet potato, kale, rice, and pecan salad. The name pretty much says it all, or at least all its ingredients which are then tossed is a balsamic vinaigrette with orange zest. Simple, face-plantable…oh, and healthy.
Who said salad was boring? Creamy sweet potatoes, crisp roasted kale, nutty red rice, and sweet pecans gently collide in this savory, satisfying salad that works equally well as a robust side or a vegan showstopper.–Angie Zoobkoff
☞ Table of Contents
Sweet Potato, Kale, Rice and Pecan Salad
- 1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes scrubbed
- 7 ounces lacinto kale (cavolo nero)
- Mild olive oil or vegetable oil for brushing
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup red rice cooked and cooled
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar plus more if desired
- 1 1/4 cups pecans (or substitute walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts)
- A little grated orange zest (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Roast the sweet potatoes whole, skins on, on the baking sheet until tender, but not mushy, when pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then cut them lengthwise into wedges.
- Pat the kale leaves completely dry. (Don’t be lazy here. This is essential.) Arrange the leaves on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides of the leaves with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until crisp. Timings will vary so keep a careful watch on the kale. Start checking it after about 10 minutes and keep in mind it will go from crisp to scorched in very little time. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, kale (you may need to rip the kale into pieces to make it manageable), rice, oil, vinegar, pecans, and orange zest and mix gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more vinegar if necessary, then serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Not only is this salad a powerhouse of good-for-you ingredients, it tastes fantastic. Served warm, it’s the perfect meal for a cool fall evening.
I chose to use almonds and they were roasted. My kale leaves were so large that I needed to cook them on 2 separate sheets so that they didn’t overlap. I cut them in half before adding to the salad, and even then they were a bit unwieldy. Perhaps they should be chopped up a bit more before adding.
The dressing was great as written. I typically prefer more vinegar but I found that it was well-balanced here.
This was a great, hearty salad that perfectly reflected the description “a feast of earthy, nutty flavors and contrasting textures.” I expected the rice, sweet potatoes, and pecans to offer up that variety, but I wasn’t sure about how the crisp kale would factor into the mix. Turned out that it provided just the right degree of acidity to offset the other flavors. It didn’t stay crisp after being dressed, but that didn’t matter in the end, because all the flavors and textures worked well and balanced each other out.
I added about half the zest from an orange and that was enough to punch the flavors up without overwhelming the entire dish. You could definitely eliminate the zest, but it really seemed to add a dimension.
Originally published December 07, 2018