Things have been deliciously dessert-y around here lately. Which is one of my favorite ways for things to be, but I thought maybe we should switch it up with a salad. A salad with the double virtues of raw kale and roasted sweet potato, but made extra tasty by fancy cheddar and roasted almonds. We don’t want to go toooo health crazy, after all. I first came across this recipe, originally from a Manhattan restaurant called Northern Spy Food Co, in a Food 52 post. I can’t remember how I actually found it: the post is from January 2012, and I pinned the recipe back in October. The internet is amazing. I haven’t ever been to Northern Spy Food Co., but I can say with confidence that they seriously know their way around a salad.
Because I tend to shop for each individual meal I cook separately (oh, BK livin’), it’s rare that I have a couple of ingredients just hanging around in my fridge, waiting to inspire me to try a new recipe without a lot of forethought. But! Sometime late last fall, right after a party and in the middle of my sweet potato obsession, I found myself with some really delicious fancy cheddar leftover and an extra sp, neither with any set purpose. This salad popped into my head, and I figured one sweet orange veggie could easily be subbed for another (the original recipe calls for “kabocha, butternut, or other winter squash”). I didn’t have the highest hopes, since it’s rare that I’ve found a kale salad really truly delicious, but I figured there were enough added ingredients to guarantee non-grossness, at least. I was both wrong and right. This salad is in fact delicious, with a great mix of tastes (sweet and a salty, both balanced by the dark green flavor of the kale) and textures. The dressing is really light: just lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, but it works.
One of the good things about kale, I find, is that it makes for a salad that holds up or even gets better over time. Not something I think you can say about a delicate lettuce. I’ve changed up the recipe to make enough to guarantee lunch leftovers, and I definitely recommend doing the same. Bringing a bag of this salad to lunch will make you feel deliciously virtuous, and the taste is varied enough to not let that virtuousness turn to grumpy boredom. I can’t absolutely swear that you won’t crave a little treat later in the afternoon–this is a salad we’re talking about, after all–but still. Everything in moderation.
northern spy food co’s kale salad
adapted from Food 52
1 large sweet potato, cubed
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches bunch kale: remove ribs and tear or chop kale into small pieces
1/2 cup almonds, cut roughly in half
1/3 cup crumbled cheddar (spring for a good, aged cheddar–it really makes a difference in this recipe)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss cubed sweet potato in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Toss every 10-15 minutes to help the sweet potato cook evenly. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, spread almonds on a separate baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, tossing once.
Combine kale, almonds, squash (I like to put the squash and almonds still warm–I think it softens up the kale a bit), cheddar and a sprinkling of parmesan in a large bowl. Dress with the juice of half a lemon and a few glugs of olive oil, and give everything a good toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.