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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Harvest Kale Salad with Roasted Apple, Sweet Potato and Candied Pecans Cooking View

Here we are again with another of those impossible to name recipes. With so very many good things in the mix, what makes the cut into the title? Even with that mouthful, I didn’t mention the dried cranberries, the cider vinaigrette or the feta (not pictured, but added later). And though I didn’t include them this time around, I think some caramelized onions (or fried shallot, if you’re feeling the need to balance out all that kale) would be an excellent addition. This works beautifully as a side dish or serve with some grilled chicken to make it a main dish salad. That is exactly what we did and it was a huge hit. In fact, I cannot recall a time when a kale salad was met with such real enthusiasm at our dinner table. I think the roasted apples in particular take this dish over the top.

There are many reasons that I consider this salad an ideal Thanksgiving side. The first and most obvious is that it is a legit healthy side option featuring plenty of veggies in their prime without being smothered in heavy sauces or decadent toppings. That is a rarity on Thanksgiving but something I would love to see more of! As is true of many fresh veggie dishes, this one is visually appealing with many vibrant colors so it looks lovely once assembled. Best of all perhaps is that all of the components can be prepped in advanced – yes, all of them! And last but certainly not least, that advance prep means that no oven or stovetop space will be required of this dish on a day when such real estate is severely limited. In addition to the many desserts I’ll be contributing to our gatherings, I think this will have to make an appearance as well.

 

 

Harvest Kale Salad with Roasted Apple, Sweet Potato and Candied Pecans
Yield: about 4-6 servings

Ingredients

For the salad: 

  • 1 large sweet potato (about  ), peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 4 firm sweet-tart apples such as pink lady, peeled, cored and cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 large bunch kale, stemmed and torn or coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Crumbled feta or honeyed goat cheese, for serving (optional)

For the dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cooking View

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 350˚ F. Add the sweet potato cubes to a baking dish and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, season lightly with salt, and toss to combine. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Add the apples to the baking dish along with an additional 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Toss well. Return the dish to the oven and roast just until the apples are fork tender but not mushy, about 5 more minutes. (Keep a close watch on the texture. Tender but not mushy potatoes and apples are key here!) Remove from the oven and let cool.

  • Meanwhile, combine the butter and the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and the sugar begins to melt into the butter, add the pecans to the pan. Toss to coat and cook just a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the nuts are coated in the sugar mixture and lightly toasted. Remove to a plate and set aside to cool.

  • Add the kale to a large salad bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss briefly.  Massage the kale leaves for a few minutes until the leaves have become shiny and a deeper green color, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cooled apple and potato mixture, pecans, and dried cranberries to the bowl. Toss to mix well.*

  • To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk well until well blended and emulsified.

  • When ready to serve, add a few tablespoons of the dressing to the bowl with the kale mixture and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing as needed. Serve with crumbled feta or honeyed goat cheese, if desired.

  • Notes: 

    • To make this in advance, the entire salad can be prepped and mixed up to the * above. The dressing can be made and stored separately. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, then proceed as directed. 
    • To make this vegan, simply chop the nuts and toast them (skip the candying process.) Refined coconut oil might also work for a vegan version of the candied pecans, though I haven’t tried this myself.
  • This looks so yummy and filling Annie! Such an interesting idea to roast the apple, not one I’ve seen before!

  • Liz N.

    This salad has my name all over it. Your shaved brussels sprout salad or this one will be on my Thanksgiving menu this year. One a side note…just wanted to send you virtual {{{HUGS}}}. I know this is always a tough time of year for you. One of the things I’m thankful for is your blog which I often refer to for recipes year-round. It has enriched my life and my cooking skills over the years. XO

  • Megan

    Thank you for yet another fabulous side option! Also, I was just thinking about your fall fashion post. Will it be up soon??

  • I love the simplicity of this! There’s something about apple, pecans and sweet potato together that I love! Definitely need to save this recipe :)

  • Elisa

    can you use regular butter? I don’t have unsalted butter

  • Sometimes I think the trick for me as far as weight loss goes is to eat lots of food like this with varied and yummy ingredients. Even the kale goes down easier with the sweetness of the cranberries, and candied pecans. This recipe is HOT….getting my sunglasses on now =)
    http://www.raiseyourgarden.com

  • annieseats

    Sure.

  • annieseats

    Yes, it’s coming soon. Hopefully by next week!

  • annieseats

    Thank you Liz. It is so appreciated!

  • I will definitely be bringing a hearty salad to Thanksgiving dinner this year, and this sounds perfect!! Love how it has all of my favorite elements of fall.

  • Carden

    I made this for Thanksgiving and OH MY GOD! It may be my favorite Thanksgiving dish, which is saying a lot. Recently I’ve been dreaming of this salad, so I think it will be making another appearance soon! :) I also made your polenta with caramelized onions, kale, and poached egg last night. So so good! Who knew something so simple could taste so delicious?! Thanks for some amazing recipes, Annie!!

  • Annie

    So so happy to hear it! We truly love this salad too. Every time I make it for dinner the kids go crazy saying how good it is. Even with kids who are great eaters, I marvel at a kale salad so good that they give it that level of praise. I also adore that polenta dish with the veggies and egg. If only the kids loved that one as much ;)

  • Cara

    This is delicious! Thanks for the great recipe ☺️