I first made this salad two summers ago, when I had a vegetarian friend coming for lunch. I had a craving for the flavors of kale and sweet potato together, but it was too hot for a warm dish. It was a hit and my friend asked for the recipe so I typed it up for her and for you as well.

Sometimes I substitute dried blueberries in place of dried cranberries. Regardless of which type of berry you use, try to get the ones that are unsweetened or sweetened only with apple juice.  I buy apple juice-sweetened cranberries in the bulk section of Whole Foods, or I order them online. I have only been able to find the apple juice-sweetened dried blueberries online. I like the Eden Organic brand.

Also a note on pine nuts – there’s a rare syndrome going around called Pine Nut Mouth which causes a metallic taste in one’s mouth for days or weeks after eating the offending pine nuts. The cause is unknown but has been linked to pine nuts from China which may be treated with a chemical that causes metallic taste to linger. Yet another reason to read the labels on everything you buy. Due concerns about food safety, I do not buy foods imported from China, even if they are listed as certified organic. Stick to pine nuts from Italy (or California which are incredibly difficult to find). They are more expensive, but you only need a few pine nuts for most recipes.  Alternatively, you can substitute another favorite nut, such as pistachios, shaved almonds or walnuts. I really do love this salad with pine nuts though!

The tangy dressing, the dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts really make the salad, so don’t leave them out! I continue to make this salad regularly. I originally made it as a summertime salad, but it’s delicious served warm as well. 

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato diced into 1/4-inch pieces, roasted and cooled
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked and chilled
  • 3-4 cups stemmed and finely chopped curly kale
  • 1 cup chopped red onion (you can substitute shallots if you prefer)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or substitute dried blueberries)
  • Salt and pepper
 
Dressing Ingredients
  • ½ cup  fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon real maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Salad: Cook onions and garlic until onions are caramelized.  Add kale to pan and lightly saute – don’t overcook the kale – you want it to be bright green when you take it off the heat.  Remove from pan and wait till cooled, then combine with cooked quinoa and roasted sweet potatoes. Add the toasted pine nuts and cranberries. Salt and pepper to taste.

Dressing: In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth but you can still see pieces of the herbs. The dressing will keep in the fridge for 1 day if you have any leftover. It’s delicious on most kinds of salad.

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below!

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