WHOA. Before we get into all the adjectives and descriptives about this salad, let me just say… YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS! Completely and utterly obsessed is simply an understatement.
This salad was inspired by one of my go-to take out spots in Chicago and their fabulous kale salad. I simply can’t get enough. It’s made with the most ridiculously good garlic tahini dressing, plus there’s roasted sweet potatoes, crunchy wasabi peas (or you can sub roasted chickpeas!), sweet cranberries, creamy avocado and my special touch: sweet and spicy toasted pistachios.
Now, doesn’t that just sound fabulous? Well, trust your girl and make this salad. I crave it all the time. It’s perfect with a hearty protein like chicken or salmon, or lovely on it’s own. Bonus: it’s delicious even after a few days in the fridge! Can’t wait to hear what you think.
What you’ll need to make this sweet potato kale salad
Get ready to fall in love with the textures and flavors in this vegan kale sweet potato salad. From the creamy dressing to the tender sweet potatoes and crunch from pistachios, every bite gets better than the next. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- For the dressing: we’re making a simple maple tahini dressing with tahini, garlic powder, lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, salt & pepper.
- For the salad base: you’ll need a large sweet potato & olive oil for roasting, plus a bunch of kale. We prefer to use Tuscan kale in this recipe!
- For the pistachios: I love adding some flavor to these pistachios by toasting them with maple syrup, cayenne pepper and a bit of sea salt.
- Extra toppings: finish it off with dried cranberries, avocado and yummy wasabi peas for extra crunch.
Customize your salad
This roasted sweet potato kale salad is naturally vegan, gluten free & grain free and paleo friendly, but it’s easy to customize with other veggies or pantry staples you might have on-hand, too. Here’s what I can suggest:
- Mix up the produce. Feel free to use butternut squash in place of the sweet potato.
- Try a new dressing. If you don’t have tahini, try my feta yogurt dressing or even my greek yogurt ranch. But trust me the tahini dressing is a GAME changer.
- Add a new sweetness. Chopped dates, raisins, dried cherries and even apple slices are the perfect swap for the cranberries.
- Swap the crunch. Out of pistachios and/or wasabi peas? Make sweet & spicy cashews instead, and try roasted salted chickpeas!
- Make it paleo. Feel free to omit the wasabi peas, too, to keep the salad paleo.
Looking for more protein?
Feel free to add your favorite meat or plant-based proteins to make this sweet potato and kale salad a heartier meal! It would be delicious with:
- Chopped chicken breast
- Chopped bacon
- Shrimp or salmon
Tips for making salads with kale
Because kale is more dense and sturdy than, say, spinach leaves, you want to treat it a bit differently.
- Be sure to chop it very finely so that the bites aren’t too large.
- Add the dressing to the kale by itself first and toss it all together really well. You can even do this with your hands and “massage” the dressing in so that all of the kale is well coated.
- Let it marinate! That’s right, you’ll want to let the dressed kale sit for at least 15 minutes before adding the other toppings so that it soaks up all of the flavor. It makes all the difference.
How to make this sweet potato kale salad
- Roast your sweet potatoes. Drizzle the cubed sweet potato with a little olive oil and roast it up.
- Make the dressing. While the sweet potato is roasting you can whisk together all of the ingredients for the tahini dressing.
- Massage the kale. Add the dressing to your kale and toss it all together well with my tips above!
- Add your toppings. Gently toss in the rest of the ingredients except the pistachios.
- Spice up those pistachios. Lastly, you’ll toast the pistachios with the maple syrup, cayenne & sea salt until fragrant, let the cool, and add them with the rest of the salad.
Make this sweet potato kale salad ahead of time
If you’re looking to meal prep this salad or serve it at a later date, feel free to chop your kale, roast the sweet potato, mix up your dressing and even make those pistachios ahead of time! The kale, dressing and sweet potato cubes can be kept in the fridge while everything else can be kept at room temp until ready to toss together and serve.
That being said, the salad can also be tossed together ahead of time too if you prefer to do this; it’s great even a few days later! I recommend just leave out the avocado until ready to serve.
This easy sweet potato kale salad will keep well for about 3-4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
More seasonal salads to try
I hope you love this easy California roasted sweet potato kale salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
California Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad
Gorgeous California roasted sweet potato kale salad with dried cranberries, avocado, sweet & spicy pistachios and a creamy tahini dressing. This vegan sweet potato kale salad is bursting with flavor and easy to customize with additional protein! The perfect veggie-packed lunch or dinner during the week.
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water, to thin the dressing
- For the salad:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium to large sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes (or 2 cups cubed sweet potato)
- 1 bunch of Tuscan kale, stems removed and very finely chopped (or 8-10 cups chopped kale)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 avocado, sliced or diced
- ½ cup wasabi peas* (or roasted salted chickpeas), for crunch
- For the sweet and spicy pistachios:
- ½ cup shelled roasted pistachios
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Sprinkle of sea salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cubed sweet potatoes onto the pan and drizzle with olive oil; toss well to coat the sweet potatoes in oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tender, flipping halfway through.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: tahini, garlic powder, fresh lemon juice, pure maple syrup, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and water. I like to start with 2 tablespoons of water, but you may need 3 total tablespoons to achieve a creamy dressing that is easily pourable. You’ll want to be able to coat all of the kale nicely so a thinner dressing is better. Set dressing aside.
Add the finely chopped kale to a large bowl and pour the dressing over. Use a tongs to coat the kale with the dressing; you REALLY want to get it mixed well so toss together for a few minutes to help breakdown the kale. Allow the dressing to sit with the kale for 15 minutes or longer to help the kale marinate with the dressing. Add in your roasted sweet potato cubes, cranberries, avocado and wasabi peas or roasted chickpeas. Give the salad a gentle toss to combine.
Finally make your sweet and spicy pistachios: place pistachio in a skillet over medium heat. Toast nutes for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently until they turn just slightly golden then turn off heat and immediately add in maple syrup, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Stir for 15 more seconds to coat pistachios, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper to cool for a few minutes. Pistachios may stick together so try to spread them in an even layer when they are cooling. Slightly chop once they’re a little cool and place them on the salad. Enjoy! Salad keeps well for 3-4 days. Serves 4-6
Feel free to make this salad heartier by adding chopped chicken breast or chopped bacon. Or both!
For a vegetarian hearty salad option, feel free to add in 1 cup cooked quinoa.
To make paleo: simply omit the wasabi peas.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats