Kale gets really sweet and delicious when it’s been exposed to frost; therefore, winter kale such as lacinato (also known as “dinosaur kale”) is ideal to use in a raw salad. Be sure to cut out the spine from the leafy part, as the spine can be too tough to chew. Beets and sweet potatoes are a fantastic combo that roasts beautifully, although this salad is a great opportunity for you to roast whatever vegetables you have on hand—regular potatoes, winter squash, even carrots would be lovely.–Ann Gentry
LC We Got A Confession To Make Note
We got a confession to make. This really quite lovely fall salad recipe, which just happens to be vegan, originally called for mustard-glazed tempeh. With all due respect to Ann Gentry, the creator of this recipe, we found that it tasted sorta complete to us, even without the tempeh, given its stunning array of colors and tastes and textures. Although if tempeh floats your boat, by all means, do your thing.
Harvest Kale Salad
For the roasted vegetables
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
- 4 medium red beets peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands (optional)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad
- 1 bunch lacinato kale stems removed and leaves cut into 1/8-inch (3-mm) strips (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
- 1 cucumber peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces (optional)
- Handful Spicy-Sweet Roasted Almonds or raw almonds
Make the roasted vegetables
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Toss the sweet potatoes and beets in a large bowl with the oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and roast, tossing after the first 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the dressing
- Whisk the orange juice, tahini, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and saffron, if using, in a bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble the salad
- Toss the kale, spinach, and the cucumber and bell pepper, if using, in a large bowl with enough of the dressing to coat. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and beets and toss again, adding more dressing if necessary. Transfer the salad to a platter. Garnish with the almonds and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is such a perfect combination of fall flavors. I can’t think of a single way to improve upon this recipe. I threw in some butternut squash cubes I’d roasted for another recipe and the squash paired beautifully with the yams and beets. I used 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar in place of the brown rice vinegar. The dressing is so amazingly delicious that I foresee whipping up a batch for use on green salads and other dishes. I opted to forego the candied almonds in place of plain roasted almonds and the added crunch was delicious. I’ll make the candied almonds for a special occasion but didn’t want to add any sugar to such a healthful salad.
Nothing makes me feel more virtuous than consuming lots of kale, so I’m always on the lookout for more ways to incorporate it into my diet. This salad is an excellent addition to my collection of kale recipes, with the greenness of the kale and spinach punctuated by the sweetness of the roasted vegetables and the creamy dressing. I used apple cider vinegar in the dressing, which worked nicely. I actually used a Persian cucumber so I didn’t have to worry about seeding it, and I also cut the cucumber and bell pepper so that they were more striplike, echoing the cut kale strips. This makes an excellent fall salad, either as a main course or as a starter or side.
Great combination of flavors. With lower temperatures here, the kale in my garden’s sweetening up and begging to be used before the arrival of snow. There are lots of easy but still seasonal substitutes if you don’t have all the ingredients available where you live. I took the suggestion to roast winter squash instead of yams, and the thick curls of delicata squash went nicely with the beets. Apple cider vinegar worked well, and garden radishes instead of cucumbers added crunch. Though I’m not a vegan, I liked that this dish is.
This main-dish salad really delivers on taste and looks great as well. The roasted beets and sweet potatoes add a hearty, filling component to the salad. In the future I wouldn’t mince the garlic that’s roasted, as it cooks too fast that way. I’d add a few more cloves and halve them or even leave them whole. The dressing is quite interesting. I liked the crunch and flavor of the almonds, but might substitute almond slices for the whole nuts next time. Overall, though, this dish is worth the time to make. It’s a wonderful autumn salad.
Originally published September 09, 2013