Superfood Salad with Kale, Quinoa & Sweet Potato

Superfood Salad with Kale, Quinoa & Sweet Potato

5 ounces baby kale (a typical plastic tub) stems removed and chopped into half-inch strips
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups quinoa, cooked (for better flavor, cook with 1 small bay leaf and use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into half-inch cubes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 red apple (look for tart, firm varieties like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp), cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped pecans
½ cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
4 strips bacon, cooked and roughly chopped (optional)
Maple Cider Vinaigrette (see recipe)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Place the chopped kale strips in a large bowl. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over the leaves and gently toss until evenly coated; set aside.

As the oven is heating up, cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. Once the quinoa is fully cooked, transfer to a heatproof bowl and use 2 forks to gently fluff the quinoa until no clumps appear. Let quinoa sit at room temperature until cool.

Prepare the sweet potato as the quinoa simmers. In a medium bowl, toss the cubed sweet potato with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper over the cubes and toss again to distribute.

Once the oven has reached 375 degrees F, transfer the sweet potatoes to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the sweet potatoes are lightly browned and fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool.

Once the quinoa and sweet potatoes have cooled, the salad is ready to assemble. Lightly toss the kale strips and add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, matchstick apples, pecans, blue cheese and bacon bits. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the Maple Cider vinaigrette over the ingredients and toss until combined. Drizzle with 2 to 3 more tablespoons of the dressing, toss again and serve.

Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Maple Cider Vinaigrette

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon and water. Continue whisking and add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Whisk vigorously until fully emulsified. Add the salt and pepper and whisk until combined.

Vinaigrette may be served immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.