This vegan kale salad combines some of the best ingredients of the cooler seasons – kale, sweet potatoes, pecans, and cranberries. With the maple mustard dressing, it’s got all sorts of texture and flavor contrasts. It’s so good that it’s been on our table every week for the past two months.
What inspired this vegan kale salad
Early in our days of plant-based eating, we had been relying heavily on the foods that seemed obvious to us. They were filling and easy to prepare. Lots of brown rice, black beans, avocado, salsa from the jar. This was all fine and well but we started to crave a bit more variety. When you don’t have a deep mental recipe bank, your “lazy” everyday meals can get repetitive very quickly. We needed to diversify.
My wife Maggie and I picked up an issue of Forks Over Knives and came across a kale salad with quinoa and roasted winter squash (the recipe doesn’t appear to be online). The combination of roasted squash and kale with nuts and dried fruit seemed like a great place to start. It used fall/winter ingredients, so we could take advantage of the produce in season for the next several months. We bought some kale, squash, and sweet potatoes (they seemed similar enough to the squash) and started experimenting.
Making it our own
Knowing the nutritional benefits of kale and appreciating the sustained energy it provides, we chose to drop the quinoa and focus on the kale. We built the dish around the kale and settled on sweet potatoes since they balance the bitterness of the kale really well.
We tweaked the maple mustard dressing to be heavy on apple cider vinegar. The tartness of the dressing is a good counterbalance to the sweetness of the sweet potato.
To further add texture and flavor, we mixed in some Fuji and Granny Smith apple slices. And toasted pecans and dried cranberries to top the salad off.
Some notes on the dish
For the photos in this post, we used sweet potatoes roasted according to this recipe. That recipe produces awesome results but takes a bit of hands-on work. If you prefer something more hands-off, there is are basic roasting instructions in the recipe below.
You can add more maple syrup to the dressing if it is too tart for your taste.
Feel free to substitute other types of dried berries or roasted nuts for the cranberries and pecans prescribed.
Vegan Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing
- 1 sweet potato
- 1/2 pound kale
- 1 apple
- 1/2 cup pecans roasted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Maple Mustard Dressing
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425F. Scrub sweet potato. When oven is hot, place sweet potato in oven. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before handling.
- While the sweet potato is baking you can prepare the other ingredients.
- Remove core from the apple. Slice thinly.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl. Stir until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Slice sweet potato into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
- Separate kale ribs from leaves. Shred leaves into thin strips and mince ribs into small pieces.
- Combine all the solid ingredients in a salad bowl. Add sauce gradually, stirring as you add it. You may not need all of the sauce.
- Serve immediately.