November 4, 2014
My mom always told me taste buds change as you grow up, so always go back and try things you didn’t like. As a stubborn kid, I thought there was no way this could be true. After all, she also told me about the Tooth Fairy and Santa! Of course mom was right. I grew out of wanting only milk chocolate and realized dark chocolate was delicious, and whole-wheat bread tastes better than toasted white bread.
There are two things I never thought I would like until recently, especially combined. I’m baffled how much I now like them. I should never again question my mother’s wisdom. I admit a total bias against both items; they never had a chance to end up on my plate.
Thanksgiving was the only time I was ever exposed to sweet potatoes, covered in marshmallows. Yuck! Whoever thought this was a good idea must have had confused taste buds. Who takes something sweet and mushy and melts extremely sweet and mushy on top? I wrote off sweet potatoes.
The other thing on my list was kale. My bias with kale comes from the first restaurant I worked after high school. Kale wasn’t part of the salad bar; it covered the ice and decorated around bowls of stuff people wanted to eat. In my mind, kale was a non-edible ornament. Who would have thought almost 30 years later kale would become the hip trendy vegetable? Since it has become so fashionable, and I had never eaten it before, I decided to give kale a try. I’m happy I did, and glad my preconceived notions didn’t hold me back.
So I share my Kale and Roasted Sweet Potatoes Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing. I’m not sure how I discovered this combination, but my daughters (who also suffered from my biases) and I love it. What I like best is the perfect juxtaposition of flavors and the lightly spicy dressing that tames the sweetness of roasted sweet potato. The slightly bitter kale is balanced by sweet potato. Lime juice in the dressing balances both. It also helps break down toughness of the kale and makes it more palatable. Roasting sweet potatoes gives a crispy texture and soft interior and helps reduce their cloying sweetness.
This salad is perfect for entertaining; the longer the salad marinates, the better it tastes. Toss in sweet potatoes just before serving. It’s one of the only green salads that isn’t too soggy to eat the next day. The best part is that it’s super delicious and healthy! I hope you try my salad, and that it inspires you to try something you may have written off long ago. Enjoy! –Molly Anderson
Kale & Sweet Potato Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing
6-8 C. kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-in. chunks
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Seasoning salt, to taste
Put prepped kale into a salad bowl, add salad dressing, toss well and let stand in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. (Longer is fine.) While kale is marinating, preheat oven to 425, toss together sweet potatoes, olive oil and seasoning salt. Place on baking sheet and roast for 25-35 minutes or until nicely browned and crispy. Before serving, toss sweet potatoes with kale and serve. Serves 4-6
Chipotle Caesar Dressing
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 C. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
¾ tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
Combine parmesan, lime juice, garlic, chipotles, salt and pepper in food processor or blender. Mix well. Slowly add olive oil in a stream. Mix until emulsified. Set aside.