Whelp. As the song goes, this is The End.
The end of 2016, that is.
Wait, what; did you guys think I meant…THE end?
I mean, I dunno. Maybe it is. Check back with me after January 20th.
For today however, let’s just keep the main focus on the fact that we’ve reached the end of the year. There is but one more day left in 2016. Crazy.
I won’t say this year’s went by particularly quick; it hasn’t really felt like that for me personally. I will say that it brought LOTS of change. Lots of new. Lots of different. There’s room for pessimism but the thing about starting a new year is that there’s also room for some new optimism. If things can get worse, there’s no reason not to hope that they can and won’t just might get better too, right?
Some of us may choose the simple practice of optimism going into the new year. Others like to engage in certain practices that across cultures are supposed to bring especial luck to individuals if done on New Years Eve. I’m sure you guys are familiar with plenty of them.
Healthy amount of libations consumed.
Kissing a significant other or a… whatever you want to call them, at the stroke of midnight.
Opening doors and windows wide at night to let the ‘bad luck’ out of a house.
There are plenty of places worldwide where people will consume particular foods, whether through tradition or believing that the foods themselves will provide good luck because of what they symbolize. Noodles consumed in Asian countries symbolize and are supposed to bring life longevity. In Spain, eating 12 grapes for each month of the year is supposed to predict the kind of year you will have (sweet for good times, sour for bad). There’s a certain Greek bread called Vasilopitta that I swear I’m gonna get around to trying myself one of these days. In the American south, black eyed peas, corn bread and leafy greens eaten at years end/new years are supposed to bring good luck.
If I’m being completely honest, I really don’t know or care whether or not eating greens of any kind will bring good luck. I’m gonna eat ’em regardless. But if the taste of today’s recipe was any indication, I’d say I was feeling pretty lucky this afternoon.
Prior to this, the only ways I’d had kale previously was eating it raw, then eating it in the crispy chips you bake in the oven. Both are fine, but they’ve never really ‘wowed’ me into thinking kale was all that special. This recipe changed my mind. The kale is quick roasted in the oven, just to the point where it’s soft without being completed deflated. Sweet potato is roasted until it’s soft, but not quite mushy; it’s still got body to it. Both are then gently tossed together with some dried cranberries in a sweet and tangy dressing for a salad that is just REALLY delicious. The best part is, it tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had enough time to meld properly. The firm texture of the sweet potato is preserved and the texture of the kale in my opinion is improved: whereas raw kale is tough and fibrous, the quick roasted kale that’s been tossed in the dressing has this robust chewiness that’s a really great bite.
Truth to be told, it’s gone now and I’m already missing this stuff. Oh yeah: and did I mention it’s pretty darn HEALTHY? And I actually want it. That’s always nice.
Roasted Sweet Potato & Kale Salad
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled, seeded, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch (about 8 ounces) kale
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 cup (about 6 ounces) dried cranberries or cherries
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are tender throughout and well browned around the edges, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from foil. Carefully remove potatoes from foil using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, pick leaves off of kale stems into a large bowl and roughly tear with hands; discard stems. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage until well-coated in oil. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until wilted and crisp in some spots, about 7–10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to bowl with sweet potatoes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar . Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup of the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add cranberries to bowl with sweet potatoes and kale,. Toss with half of dressing, taste, and add more dressing as desired. The dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature or briefly microwave until warm before serving.