Sweet Potato Quinoa Kale Salad

This warm trend in our cold Michigan weather had me thinking salad yesterday!

Actually, that’s a lie. I was thinking more pancakes and pizza, but my almost, sort of mother in law asked me to bring a salad to the dinner we were having. I contemplated making a pizza salad, but the more I thought about it, the less appetizing it sounded.

With pizza salad out of the question, I rummaged through my pantry and fridge to see what I could whip together. Armed with a sweet potato that I have no idea when I bought (January maybe?), quinoa and dried cherries I somehow acquired from my mom, a bag of baby kale spring mix, a bitter but colorful radicchio, and some home grown walnuts that we’re regifted to me by a family friend, I got to work.

The beauty of those bigger than life, enormous quantity of sweet potatoes you buy thinking you’re going to all sorts of creative culinary adventures with is they’re like realitives. They stick by your side even when you sometime forget to do anything with them for a few months. Normally i don’t peel my potatoes. I say it’s because there’s so many nutrients in the peel, which is part of it, but it’s also because I’m a busy lady and to quote the one famous interview, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” But when they’re old, they’re bound to have bad spots. The cool part of sweet potatoes is you can slice them then cut the bad edges off while they’re in rounds.

I always toast my quinoa. It adds a roasted, deeper flavor to the grain and only adds a couple minutes on to the cooking time. The popping is when you know you got it!

Radicchio is ridiculously bitter raw. Don’t believe me? Taste is. I did to see if the soak step was necessary. Trust me, it is! I made faces only my mother would still love. The way to tame it is simple. Just let it soak for half an hour! The bitter compounds in the radicchio are water soluble. They leach out into the water.

Walnuts raw are okay I suppose. But toasted then candied in a smoky sweet coating. Oh. My. Word. They take this salad to new levels.

I thought of adding the calories and macros to this dish, as it is healthy and my aim for this blog is to encourage health in all four parts of life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. But the last thing I would want to do is to encourage someone struggling with an eating disorder by helping them count their macros instead of memories. Instead, I’ll tell you when nutrients the recipes I make are rich in! Because we could all use more micronutrients in our lives.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Kale Salad

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 1 small sweet potato, chopped into small squares
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

For the walnuts:

  • 1 cup walnuts, raw
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of salt

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup natural apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon

For the salad:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I used rainbow)
  • 1 bag of baby kale or 6 cups of regular kale
  • 1 small radicchio, chopped, soaked in water for a half hour, then spun out and dried
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup good goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

For the sweet potatoes, preheat your oven to 425°F. Spray a small pan with cooking spray then place your chopped potatoes in the pan. Combine the seasoning mix in a small bowl then sprinkle evenly over the sweet potato chunks. Roast for 10 minutes then flip the chunks over and roast for another 10 minutes or until the chunks are spotty brown an cooked through. Let cool to room temperature.

For the walnuts, place them in a pan and toast them in an oven preheated to 350°F for about 10 minutes. Check them often to be sure they don’t burn. While walnuts are in the oven, place the sugar, liquid smoke, and seasonings in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium, low heat until the mixture becomes a liquid, stirring frequently. Toss in the walnuts and stir to coat. Place the walnuts back in the pan they were toasted in and spread them out to dry. Walnuts can be made over a week ahead of time. Just keep them in an airtight container.

For the mustard vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a pint sized mason jar (or a container with a tight lid) and secure a lid tightly on it. Shake it hard to combine. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

For the salad, place your quinoa in a medium/small skillet. Toast over medium heat until popping, about 3-5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to low. Let it simmer until the grain is translucent and the germ has spiralled out, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Mix the sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale, and radicchio in a large serving bowl. Top with green onions, dried cherries, goat cheese, and walnuts. Serve with the dressing on the side. Enjoy!

Rich in:

Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Fiber

5 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Quinoa Kale Salad

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