This roasted sweet potato kale salad with spiced walnuts features a tangy walnut dressing that totally fits the “hardy salad” bill. I love how easy this kale salad recipe is to make.
It is hands down the most versatile fall recipe in my little arsenal of cooking goodness. You can serve it warm or cold. It is great as a dinner side dish or as a vegan lunch.
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I have even added bacon and a runny egg to make a sweet potato and kale hash, it is a perfect weekend breakfast! I am a huge fan of weekend breakfast salads. Is that weird? No… it's good!
But the base recipe is simple ingredients and is full of flavor.
📖Why This Recipe Works
- Smoked paprika gives the walnuts a warm Fall spice
- Naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian, with a vegan option.
- Components can be prepped in advance and combined at mealtime
- Great starter or side dish for Thanksgiving dinner
Kale- I used curly kale but baby kale and lacinato or Tuscan kale also work just as well.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes- Sweet potato, your oil of choice (I like coconut oil) paprika, garlic powder, and kosher salt. You can use a purple sweet potato or a yam.
Not a sweet potato fan? Try substituting carrots.
Spiced Walnuts- Walnuts, a bit more oil, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper gives the salad a complex smokey flavor. Try it with pecans or almonds for a twist. You can also use seeds like pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds.
Walnut Oil- Walnut oil is the base for this dressing, and it is available in most grocery stores.
If you can’t find it substitute 1 tablespoon of VERY finely chopped walnuts and ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Champagne Vinegar- You can substitute rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Honey- Substitute maple syrup for vegan. If you want to dress up the walnut dressing you can use Fermented Garlic Honey in place of regular raw honey.
You will also need Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, and salt and pepper.
⏲️How to Make Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
Looking at the recipe you might think there are too many steps or ingredients. I promise it is way easier than it looks. The entire recipe can be made while the sweet potatoes are roasting.
Step 1- Roast the Sweet Potatoes
When roasting sweet potatoes, or any other vegetable, the trick is even-sized pieces and ensuring they are in a single layer on your rimmed baking sheet
For this recipe, cut the sweet potato into ½- inch cubes. That is the perfect bite-sized piece and they will cook in about 20 minutes.
Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil and spices. They are ready when they are fork tender. The sweet potatoes can be served cooled to room temperature or warm.
Step 2- Roast the Walnuts
Once your sweet potatoes are in the oven, prep, and roast the walnuts. They only take 6 to 8 minutes to roast, keep a close eye on them.
You might notice that I use smoked paprika for one and regular paprika for the other. That is mainly to keep the smokey flavors from becoming overwhelming. You can use smoked paprika for both or for neither, your kitchen your call!
Step 3- Make the Salad Dressing
For the walnut vinaigrette, combine all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake. Or you can be classy and do it in a blender while you drizzle in your walnut oil.
Step 4- Assemble the Salad
Destem and chop the fresh kale into 1-inch pieces.
As soon as the dressing is done I get it on the kale. The vinegar will break down the leaves. The kale becomes less bitter, and softens slightly but still has that crunch.
To serve top with the cooled (just slightly) sweet potatoes and walnuts. Enjoy!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
If your kale is bitter use your hands to massage in the dressing. Rubbing the kale will break down cellular walls reducing the bitterness. Allow the kale to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- For a warm kale salad, saute kale in neutral oil for 3-5 minutes before dressing. Top with sweet potatoes and spiced walnuts. Serve immediately.
- Add apple slices for an extra crunch.
- If you want to add cheese I suggest crumbled goat cheese or Boursin cheese.
- Add roasted red onion for a bit more zing.
- For added protein try roasted chickpeas or grilled chicken.
- Try this salad with our honey mustard dressing or sugar-free poppy seed dressing.
🌡️Storage and Meal Prep
To make it in advance, dress the chopped kale. Keep the sweet potatoes, dressed kale, and walnuts in separate airtight containers. The walnuts will keep at room temperature for a week. The kale and sweet potatoes will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Leftover salad should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be eaten cold.
🥗More Delicious Salad Recipes
We hoped this is your new favorite salad recipe. But here are a few more we love!
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Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
- 6 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cubed sweet potatoes with melted coconut oil and spices. Spread out sweet potatoes on a sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until fork tender (but not mushy) tossing halfway through. Cool to room temperature.2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes, 2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Toss walnuts with melted coconut oil and spices. Spread out a small sheet pan. Add to the oven with the sweet potatoes. Bake 8 minutes, tossing halfway through.1 cup walnuts, halves, 2 teaspoon coconut oil, melted, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Place all ingredients in a covered mason job and shake until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.¼ cup walnut oil, 2 tablespoon champagne vinegar, 1 teaspoon raw honey, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- In a large bowl, toss kale with dressing. Allow the kale to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to soften. To serve, top with cooled sweet potatoes and spiced walnuts.6 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
- To serve warm, saute kale in coconut oil for 3-5 minutes before dressing. Top with sweet potatoes and spiced walnuts. Serve immediately.
- Any neutral oil like olive oil can be substituted for coconut oil.