Let’s say, for instance, that you knew of someone who had a whole bunch of kale growing in their garden out in the back of their house. Let’s say that this person was getting slightly overwhelmed by all this kale. What would you suggest they do? I know what I’d suggest – find a really nice recipe that uses a fair amount of kale and have at it. Actually, that sounds pretty good.
I have a confession to make. The above paragraph was about me. I’m the one with the kale. Earlier in the season, I planted about 20 plants in a raised bed that measures four foot by 8 foot. For the soil, I used composted horse manure, lobster compost and top soil. For the first few weeks, I didn’t think anything was going to happen. The plants were just sitting there. After the warmer weather arrived, everything started to take off. And take off it did.
The photo above is of a tiny corner of my entire crop. I tried to take a larger photo but kale is one of those things that doesn’t come out too great in full sun. It’s details and curls make for a lousy picture. I think you get the idea though – between thirty two square feet of fresh kale and thirty two square feet of solidly packed Swiss chard, let’s just say that Laura and I have been eating a lot of salad. We’re actually planning on cutting some of it and bringing it to the local food pantry tomorrow morning. That ought to make for some fun eats for a few folks.
The recipe I’d like to share with you today is perfect for the summertime. It’s a vegetarian salad and, as I mentioned above, it uses a good amount of kale. If you’re growing it yourself, perfect. If you need to purchase some from the grocery store, that’s fine. It’s not so much that it’ll break the bank.
There are some distinct characteristics in the final dish. Ingredients that work against, and with, each other. The kale makes up much of the bulk, but the cooked sweet potato offers a lot of the taste. Those ingredients, combined with toasted pecans for texture and shredded Parmesan cheese for more flavor, work out well. To top things off, a vinaigrette that consists of maple syrup, honey, apple cider vinegar, minced onion and olive oil finishes the coating to make the entire dish very enjoyable.
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for their recipe called Kale Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. While I did change up some of their ingredients and cooking methods, I was inspired by them.
For the Salad
2 Large Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Cut into 1/2 Inch Cubes
Regular Olive Oil
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 Pound Kale, Cut Across into 1/2 Inch Strips
1/2 Head Red Cabbage, Sliced Thin and Chopped
1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped and Toasted
Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
For the Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons Water
2 Tablespoons Real Maple Syrup
1/4 Sweet Onion, Minced
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/3 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
If you’re into pomegranate, by all means, substitute the maple syrup in this recipe for that. I live in Maine and was able to harvest over two and a half gallons of syrup from our trees this spring. Because of this, I like to include it in many of the recipes I prepare, whether it calls specifically for it or not.
Pre-Heat Your Oven
Arrange your oven racks so one of them is in the center position. Then, warm the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the Sweet Potatoes
After the potatoes are prepped, put them in a large bowl and toss them with 2 tablespoons of regular olive oil. Also, add some salt and pepper to taste.
After the cubes are well coated with the oil, transfer them to a large baking sheet in one layer. Place them in the oven and let cook for 30 minutes. When finished, remove the sheet from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Also, turn off the oven, as you won’t need it anymore.
Prepare the Kale
After the kale is cut to size, add it to a large bowl. Once there, use your hands to vigorously squeeze the kale as if it were a sponge. The goal here is to soften the vegetable and make it silky. The color will change from light to dark green and it will become more compact. Do this for about one minute.
Toast the Pecans
I wanted to write a quick something about toasting pecans. Just a warning, if you will. When toasting pecans, be very careful as to not let them burn. In the beginning, it will seem as though nothing is happening. It’s only when you turn your back for one second that you come to find that they’ve turned black on one side. It only takes a few minutes to toast these things and they require constant flipping.
Prepare the Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, add the water, maple syrup, minced sweet onion, honey, vinegar, salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil. With a fork, mix thoroughly until everything is well combined.
Assemble the Salad
Add the chopped red cabbage and the cooked sweet potato to the large bowl the kale is currently in.
Then, drizzle the vinaigrette over everything and toss with a large spoon so all the kale is coated with the vinaigrette. When you’re finished with this, divide the salad among four plates and top with the pecans and shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve.
The Final Dish
This is no small dish. Last night, Laura and I ate this as our main course and were stuffed afterwards. Remember, there are sweet potatoes in this, which are rather filling. Now, if you’re bringing this to a picnic or something, I would vouch for it being a perfect side. It’s up to you. It works well either way.
Would you like to look through some more kale salad recipes? If so, check out these great posts:
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