Kale and sweet potato salad is bursting with flavorful turmeric marinated chickpeas, red onions, ginger, and slices of garlic in a Tahini-lemon kale rub.
This recipe is a tasty combination of three relatively effortless steps resulting in three separately prepared ingredients that merge complimenting flavors and textures. The result? A flavorful salad meal in a jiff with lasting powerful nutrition.
Three steps? Don’t let that scare you off. You won’t begin with a counter full of ingredients or end with a sink full of pots and pans. You'll need a medium bowl for marinating chickpeas, a baking tray for the sweet potatoes, and your salad bowl. Done and done!
My mention of steps could be interpreted as sequences, and I do have preferred steps for the sake of flavor and timing. But you could break this up a bit depending on convenience. That will become clearer once we get on with it.
The turmeric marinated chickpeas are a bit of a twist on our favorite pickled red onions. In fact, we’ll be including red onions. And as weird as it sounds, it’s also a twist on Diavolo sauce where I first experimented with sliced garlic (and eating it like that).
The ‘marinade’ uses the quick pickling magic of apple cider vinegar. It’s the acid of vinegar that makes pickling happen. When you mix up the ½ cup of vinegar, 2 tsp. of ground turmeric, minced ginger, and sliced garlic, it may seem a lot of liquid. After all, you're just adding a can of drained chickpeas and sliced red onion.
Follow the measures and trust me because all the leftover marinade is going to become dressing. Because we’re only marinating plant-based ingredients, we get to do things like pour marinades over our salad without fear of contamination. Yippee!
We love adding thinly sliced garlic to this salad; however, if you fear a full-frontal garlic assault, adjust the garlic in three ways (or a combination).
1. Cut the garlic from 2 to 1 clove.
2. Rather than thin slices, mince the garlic.
3. Roast the minced or sliced garlic along with the sweet potatoes. Roasting will mellow and soften the garlic. It’s the best method for making roasted sweet potato dip, and it will work here.
I’m not joy-riding on the turmeric bandwagon by adding it to the marinade. There is a lot of research regarding the nutritional properties of turmeric. I used it for the same reason I use any spice. It’s the right flavor for the moment.
The first time I purchased a jar of bright orange turmeric, I figured the flavor would most certainly reflect the color. Something bright and citrussy. I got that completely wrong. Had I thought it through that turmeric is an essential ingredient in curry powder, I would have left the citrus notion behind.
Although turmeric, or more specifically, the Curcuma longa root from which it comes, is related to ginger, the taste is quite different. Turmeric is difficult to describe – it’s super-earthy, with a bit of a bitter and peppery flavor.
If you’ve ever used it, you already know that a little turmeric goes a long way. It also has a tendency to wiggle its way into your plastic containers, wooden spoons, and cutting boards. Let’s avoid all that potential mess.
Use a glass or stainless-steel bowl and use a metal spoon to mix 2 teaspoons of turmeric with ½ cups of the vinegar. Mix in the ginger and garlic. Then toss the chickpeas and sliced red onions.
If you end up using your hands, because it’s quicker, or you can't get the onion sliced separated, the turmeric won't permanently stain your hands or anything. Resist the urge to wipe your hands on your bright white kitchen towel. Wash your hands. That does the trick.
I always get the chickpeas and onions started first and then move to the sweet potatoes; however, the marinating time can be as little as 10 minutes. This means you can get the potatoes baking with plenty of time for the marinating. The timing difference is 10 minutes either way, and you can preheat the oven while you make the chickpeas and then roast the sweet potatoes.
Roasting sweet potatoes
I used 2 medium sweet potatoes for this salad. Don’t get precious about the ‘required’ amount, just get them peeled, diced, on the baking tray and into the oven.
Aim for bite-sized pieces of sweet potato. My preferred approach is to cut the potatoes in half and then place them cut side down and slice them into little moons. It’s kind of a lazy way, but sweet potatoes come in such weird shapes that I find the idea of cubes a bit intimidating. If you’re an expert cube-cutter, proceed with your expertise.
If you toss the sweet potatoes in a bit of vegetable broth, like a tablespoon, it will help to keep them moister as they roast. Keep in mind that you don’t want the sweet potatoes mushy because we’re eating the pieces, not mashing them. Check them after 15 minutes by piercing them with a fork. If it doesn't come with a potato wedge when you try to remove it and the potatoes are tender, then they are done.
Baking time depends on the size of the potatoes, how old they are, the heat in your oven (they are all different), and sometimes the inexplicable. I bucket this as 'the unpredictable nature of sweet potatoes.' Sometimes they bake up in what seems like seconds, and other times they are slow as snails.
Why massage kale?
Massage? Did someone say massage? I’m SO in! And so is your kale. The reason to massage kale is just what you think. Raw kale can be a bit abrasive and rough (sort of like me when I could do with a massage).
If you take a few minutes to massage kale in dressing or in our case, tahini, and allow it to sit for a minute or two, it relaxes. That makes it softer and gives it a pleasanter mouthfeel.
For the 4 cups of shredded or chopped kale, I used 1 tablespoon of tahini along with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Then I just stuck my hands right in the bowl and massaged the kale for about 2 minutes. The process is quite therapeutic, like a few moments of tension release.
Massage the kale in the salad bowl you’ll use to serve the finished salad. That way, you will pick up any tahini that sticking to the sides of the bowl when you add the chickpeas and onions along with all the marinade. When you mix all that together, you’ve created a dressing with a little tahini nutty flavor and a zip from the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger. And of course, there’s a lovely color and earthy flavor courtesy of ground turmeric.
Finish this salad with a cup or so of chopped mixed herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, and parsley. Mint adds a particularly nice flavor that goes well with the pickled onions and chickpeas.
You can serve this salad warm or at room temperature if you want to make it early or tote it. It’s also possible to marinate the chickpeas and roast the sweet potatoes the day before. Just cover both and store them in the refrigerator. Take them out before massaging the kale and chopping the fresh herbs so they can warm up a bit.
I’m not the hugest fan of the word synergy, but I like the idea of three powerful ingredients combining forces to create a savory, flavorful meal in a bowl. I also didn’t start as a kale super-cheerleader, but simple tricks like massaging it have brightened my horizons about this nutritious, versatile, and hearty green. Chance favors the prepared mind. Peace.Print
This kale and sweet potato salad bursts with flavorful turmeric marinated chickpeas, red onions, ginger, and slices of garlic in a tahini-lemon kale rub.
- 3 cups (1 – 15 oz. or 400 gm. can) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium red onion, (about ½ cup), thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or minced
- 1 Tbsp. grated or minced ginger (a 1-inch knob)
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable broth
- 4 cups of shredded or chopped kale or another green of your choice
- 1 Tbsp. Tahini
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs such as basil, mint, cilantro, or parsley, chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar and turmeric. Add the garlic, ginger, chickpeas, and red onion slices. Be sure to coat everything well. Set the bowl aside so the ingredients can marinate. Mix the ingredients a few times as they sit.
- Preheat the oven to 4000 F. (2000 C.).
- Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into bite-sized cubes and toss them with 1 Tbsp. of vegetable broth to keep them moister during the baking process.
- Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Bake the sweet potatoes for 20 – 30 minutes, tossing them after the first 15, until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
- While the sweet potatoes bake, add the kale to your salad bowl. Add in 1 Tbsp. of tahini and 3 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Using your hands, massage the kale for 2 minutes until it is coated with the tahini and starts to become softer and more pliable. Allow it to sit in the bowl until the sweet potatoes are done.
- To make the salad, add the entire contents of the bowl of chickpeas and onions to the kale and mix well. Add the chopped herbs and sweet potatoes.
- Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.
- Baking time for the sweet potatoes will depend on how large the pieces are. I recommend cutting the chickpeas in half, then laying them cut-side down and slicing them into round wedges about ½-inch thick.
- The turmeric marinated chickpeas and sweet potatoes can be prepared a day in advance. Keep both ingredients in separate covered containers in the refrigerator. Take them out before prepping the kale and chopping the fresh herbs. That should be enough time to warm them to room temperature.
- Choose any fresh herbs you like to finish this salad. We found that basil and mint are very complimentary with the turmeric and other flavors. Either curly or flat-leaf parsley are good options. You can also use a bit of fresh dill. Try not to overpower the salad with just one herb unless you are its superfan.
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Cuisine: plant-based
Keywords: kale and sweet potato salad