This salad started with a massage. Not for me, silly, it was the kale that got the spa treatment!
Kale is one of those super-nutritious greens; it also tastes good, but in its raw form it’s über chewy. Giving it a little massage is a good way to break down the fibres and make it easier to eat. Being at the cottage without access to the internet when I made this salad, all I could remember about massaging kale was that salt was involved. So, after chopping and washing it I added about a teaspoon of salt and went to town, showing it the love and giving it a good rubdown. When I was done, I gave it another rinse to wash away the excess salt, especially since I didn’t have kosher salt available and had to use regular table salt, which I find has a stronger and less pleasant taste.
My kale was still on the chewy side and a little too salty for my taste. Home now, I’ve had a chance to check a couple of sources, here and here, and I realize that I should have massaged my kale longer (at least five minutes), using far less salt and possibly adding in some lemon juice or olive oil. Nonetheless, I’m sure my kale enjoyed the pampering.
To complement the meatiness of the kale (oh yes, it’s a hearty green), I cut a sweet potato into half-inch cubes and roasted those until nicely caramelized on the outside and creamy tender on the inside. A good portion of quinoa and a smaller amount of brown lentils contributed healthy goodness and texture, and diced red pepper added colour and crunch. This salad illustrates the importance of having pre-cooked grains and legumes on hand so you can quickly combine them with whatever produce caught your eye at the market.
All in all, this was a super-healthy salad, and a tasty one too. As you can see from the pictures, it was raining lightly but that didn’t deter me from my pre-dinner photoshoot. My salad got a little wet, but raindrops on the plate add an interesting visual effect. Oh, the things I do for my art!
Kale, Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Pre-heat the oven to 375º and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
You can prepare a whole bunch of kale and refrigerate what you don’t need for a a day or so, sealed in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible. Any type of lentils will work for this recipe, except the red ones.
- 1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups finely sliced kale (if the stems are tender, slice them finely and include)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup cooked brown lentils
Toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil and a grating or two of pepper. Spread on the tray and bake in the pre-heated oven, turning the cubes occasionally, until nicely caramelized on the outside and cooked through. Remove the from oven and set out to cool to room temperature (you could use them in the salad while a little warm, too).
Wash and drain the kale, then sprinkle on the salt. Give the kale a good massage, working your hands through it and turning it as you go. You’ll need to do this for about 5 minutes, so it’s a good opportunity to do some meditation to really get into the zen of the experience. Or something like that.
Once the kale has submitted to your ministrations and softened to your liking, add the red pepper, quinoa and lentils. Stir until well incorporated. Then add the roasted sweet potato and the dressing, and toss lightly until the salad is evenly dressed.
Orange Vinaigrette with Kick
This orange juice-based dressing marries well with the sweet potato, and the small amount of cayenne pepper added just the right amount of kick for us.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed if you have an orange around)
- 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
- pinch ground cayenne (in the interest of science, I used 1/16th tsp)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk with a fork or small whisk until pleasingly emulsified. Taste with a piece of kale and adjust seasonings if required.