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
step 1: Show Images
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.
step 2: Show Images
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.
step 3: Show Images
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.*
step 4: Show Images
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk well until well blended and emulsified.
step 5: Show Images
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.
step 6: Show Images
- 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.