A few weeks ago, I had that most wonderful of treats: Thanksgiving Leftovers. And while the standard Turkey + Stuffing + Gravy sandwich was, as always, super-delectable, I was in the mood to get more creative. With my eye on the fridge — and on the nutrition facts — I concocted this Superfood Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, and Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette. It’s a warm salad that can also be served cold or at room temperature, and works particularly well with leftovers of Mom’s Sweet Potatoes and Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce.
“But what is this “superfood” label you speak of?” you may be asking yourself. “Superfood” is a somewhat trendy label for what nutritionists have been touting for years: Colorful, nutrient-rich foods (usually plant-based) that have serious antioxidant or other healthful heft. For example, here’s one list of the top ten “superfoods”for their cancer-fighting and nutritional content (list adapted from Joy Bauer at www.joybauer.com.):
- Blueberries (seriously. They’re amazing.)
- Sardines (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids AND eco-friendly? Win-win.)
- Spinach (Fun fact: Combine with orange / citrus for extra vitamin goodness)
- Pistachios (which make me think of Willie the Giant.)
- Dark Chocolate (… not much else to say here. 🙂 )
- Red Bell Peppers (stir fry, anyone?)
- Beans (no salt-added cans are tops)
- Egg Whites (protein! Woo!)
- Oats (ain’t just for horses)
- Pumpkin (… so my pumpkin addiction is actually good for me? Yessss.)
There are many others, but the basic notion is this: the more colors you eat (particularly when it comes to plant-based ingredients, e.g. fruits and veggies), the healthier you are. Try to avoid most “white” or overly processed foods, and stick to their more colorful brethren. Dark greens? Check. Bright orange sweet potatoes? Double check. Cranberries? Triple check. As Rachael Ray would say, Yummo!
Superfood Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette — serves 2-3 as a hefty side salad, but easily doubled.
- 1-2 leftover servings of Mom’s Sweet Potatoes; alternately, 1 sweet potato, diced and microwaved (with 1 tbsp orange juice and 1 tsp grated orange zest) for 10-15 minutes until fork-tender
- 4-5 kale leaves, rinsed thoroughly and dried
- For Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce; alternately, 1/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- A dash of lemon or lime juice (optional)
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Optional garnish: chopped pistachios or almonds
Here’s what you do:
- Cut leftover sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Heat for 1-2 minutes in microwave, or until warmed through and steaming. If microwaving sweet potato from scratch, heat according to above directions, then cover with foil to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, trim and shred kale leaves: Slice down the middle length-wise, discarding tough inner membrane (the “backbone” of each leaf). Rip into large chunks. Then, using food scissors or a sharp knife, cut into thin shreds (similar to a chiffonade cut with fresh herbs). Place shredded kale leaves in serving bowl.
- To make your vinaigrette, add cranberry sauce to a small bowl. Add vinegar, whisking thoroughly until well-incorporated. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking continuously, until dressing is well-emulsified. (Amounts may vary according to taste.) Add salt, pepper & lemon juice according to your preference.
- Top kale leaves with sweet potato chunks; add dressing and toss lightly to coat. Serve!
This salad is, in a word, rocking. It makes for a great vegetarian entree (those sweet potatoes! That hint of citrusy sweetness! The nutrient-dense kale! The cranberry sauce!), but also works deliciously well as a side salad with a light protein. A few slices of sage-rubbed pork tenderloin, for example, would be awesome-possum.
What are your favorite salad recipes? Moreover, what are your favorite superfoods? I’ve been exploring probiotics a bit by having Kefir with my cereal in the morning, and I’m totally riding the kale train right now. How about you guys? Happy eating!