With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter, I crave easy, hearty meals that can sustain me for long periods of time. This salad fits the bill and can be made a thousand different ways. By roasting some vegetables, adding nuts for crunch, kale for bulk, quinoa for protein, and fresh apple for a bit of sweetness, all your bases are covered, creating a gorgeous, fall meal.
Big salads like this are my favorite kind of meal. Chop a few things, roast some, keep some fresh, add some crunch; basically improvise with all of the food groups and use what you have on hand! For this salad, I use massaged kale as my base. Kale is rich in Vitamin A, C, and K as well as minerals like potassium, iron, and phosphorus. Basically, it’s a powerhouse food with very little calories, making it the perfect raw base for this recipe. I love the addition of sweet potatoes to this recipe because it lends a sweet, creaminess that is enhanced by the shallots they're roasted with. Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene and Vitamin C, plus provide a good amount of fiber and potassium. Cauliflower is high in vitamins and minerals, plus it contains glucosinolates which activate the body’s detoxification system. Quinoa is great in this recipe because it adds a nice heartiness and bulks up the salad. Quinoa is a wonderful grain for vegans because it’s a complete protein. It’s also high in iron and calcium. I threw an apple into this salad to add a bit of tartness. Apples are low in calories, but high in fiber and Vitamin C. Last but not least, I added in some roasted hazelnuts for that toasty flavor and some crunch. Hazelnuts contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. All of these flavors are brought together with garlic and rosemary which are customary staples of fall.
Well, guys, I've had a long week! I had a very exciting meeting and offer earlier this week, but trying to make a decision about it stressed me out to the point that I couldn't fall asleep until 6:30 in the morning, which put me in a funk for the next day. Then, I had an early shoot the day after that and only got about four hours of sleep beforehand. On top of all of that, I've been working on creating posts for the website while I'm away for Thanksgiving, and my laptop decided to wipe itself clean of all of my documents, photos, and music. Luckily, I restarted it before having a complete meltdown, and it was restored. All in all, I've had an interesting, sleep-deprived few days, so I decided to sleep in this morning and treat myself to a little spa treatment before getting back to work. Lesson: sometimes, I can be a bit of a perfectionist. If I do something, I want to do it right, which in itself is a good thing, but, sometimes for me, it can lead to anxiety and stress. I've learned to deal with it by taking breaks and talking it out, so I can really put the situation in perspective. Usually, it's not nearly as bad as I felt it was. If I learned anything this week, it's to clock out every once in a while. My health and sanity shouldn't be second to anything, whether it be a career decision or otherwise. So, now, I'm going to make myself a cup of tea, grab my velvety blanket, and watch an episode of the Real Housewives of New York City (yeah, so what?!) before I have to go to work. Over and out.
Kale, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Salad
½ c. quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced and separated (about 3 tsp.)
3 tsp. dried or fresh rosemary, minced and separated
¼ tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 c.)
1 large sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 c.)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tsp. coconut oil, separated
1 kale, destemmed and cut into thin shreds
1 tbs. olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 gala apple, diced
½ c. hazelnuts
Combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tsp. rosemary, and ¼ tsp. salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Set quinoa aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread cauliflower out on a baking sheet and add 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tsp. rosemary, and salt to taste. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower with the seasonings. On a separate baking sheet, toss the sweet potato cubes with the sliced shallots, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tsp. rosemary, and salt to taste. Put both the cauliflower tray and the sweet potato tray into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the veggies are tender and slightly browned, shaking the pan every 5 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove both trays from the oven.
Turn the heat up to 475°F. Spread your hazelnuts out on a small baking sheet and put them in the oven to roast for 5-8 minutes. They’re done when they have a slight brown color on the inside and emit a nice toasted smell. Keep an eye on these because they brown quickly. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the shredded kale, olive oil, 1 minced clove of garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Massage the kale with your hands, coating it in the seasonings.
To put everything together: fluff the cooled quinoa with a fork and add it to the bowl with the kale. Add the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, hazelnuts, and diced apple to the bowl. Sprinkle with salt to taste and then toss the salad until combined. Spoon into bowls and serve. Enjoy!