We’re still waffling between cardigan weather and the last sunny summery days. I’m ready to hunker down with some cozier clothes and food, but for now salads with roasted root vegetables are bridging the gap.
This started out as a caesar salad recipe, but quickly evolved into a more colorful and autumnal salad that couldn’t really justify the title. The dressing itself is great for a vegetarian caesar, whether you want to go for a classic romaine version or a kale and crouton situation. I used light miso paste to add salty tang and you can use nutritional yeast in the place of the Parmesan to take it into vegan territory.
And these spicy pepitas are the new preferred salad topper around here. I’ve made them with cayenne in the recipe below, but they’re awesome with a chipotle powder, smoked paprika, a cumin-coriander blend — or sub in your favorite spice/spice blend of the moment. When I’m making a meal in a pinch, the last thing I want to do is make a spiced nut or seed in the oven. It always seems like too many steps to coat in oil and spices and line a baking tray with parchment paper . . . but in reality, it’s super quick, makes minimal mess (see parchment paper), and the payoff is A+. Make a batch in advance and you’ll be patting yourself on the back all week.
I like making this salad as the base for a meal — just add your preferred protein (see the list below for suggestions), but it would also be an ideal salad to bring for a holiday dinner, a potluck, or serve as a dinner side. Dress the kale up to a day in advance, then store extra dressing, roasted sweet potato, and spiced pepitas separately to assemble everything right before you’re ready to serve.
Fall Kale Salad with Miso Caesar Dressing
Serves 2-3 as a meal, 4-5 as a side
- 1 medium sweet potato scrubbed clean and cut into small, 1-inch cubes
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 bunch of kale I like Tuscan/Lacinato for this, destemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot thinly sliced or ¼ of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
- Miso Caesar Dressing recipe follows
- Spiced Pepitas recipe follows
Miso Caesar Dressing
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan or 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast, plus extra to serve
- 2 teaspoons light miso paste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped or grated on a microplane
- Cracked black pepper
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup raw pepitas
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Make it a bigger meal, add:
- Jammy medium-boiled egg 1 per person
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- Cooked chicken
- Shaved Parmesan
First, roast your sweet potato. Heat oven to 400°F and coat a baking tray in a thin layer of olive or avocado oil and spread sweet potato cubes out over it. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until sweet potato cubes are tender and golden.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ingredients until there are no clumps. Taste for seasoning.
Heat oven to 375°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl combine pepitas with oil and toss to coat. Add cayenne, salt, and garlic powder and toss to coat again. Spread pepitas out on the prepared back tray and pop in the oven for 7-10 minutes, checking regularly to make sure they don’t burn.
In a large mixing bowl combine sliced kale with a couple of spoonfuls of the dressing and massage (yup, with your hands) the dressing into the kale leaves until they soften and brighten in color a little (about 30 seconds). Toss with sliced shallot and roasted sweet potato and top with spiced pepitas (and any other optional toppings) and serve with extra dressing to taste.