Warm Chipotle Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Farro and Kale

Healthy can be delicious like in this Warm Chipotle Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Farro and Kale. It’s finished off with a bright, citrus-y lime cilantro vinaigrette.

Warm Chipotle Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Farro and Kale

Something about the changing of the calendar seems to reset mindsets and encourages people to trade their decadent diets of the holidays for more sensible, nutrient-rich ones. We resolve to work out more, eat better, shed pounds and generally be healthier.

And sometimes it works. Last year, it did for me.

As 2013 came to a close, I weighed more than I’d ever before (outside of pregnancy) and I hated it. Worse, I didn’t recognize myself. My body needed a reboot — and I was ready to do what it took to make it happen. So I walked and moved more, ate better and drank more water. I used a FitBit and the online site SparkPeople to ensure that I burned more calories than I consumed. And within a few months, I lost about 25 pounds, which I have kept off.

This year, I’m continuing that journey to a healthier me.

One of the bigger changes that has helped me along this journey — and helped me feed my kids well — is weekly meal planning. Every weekend, I take an inventory of what we have in the freezer, fridge and cabinets and plan out what we’ll eat for dinner for the next week. I am a firm believer in moderation, so some nights are healthier versions of classics — like zucchini noodles with meat sauce — and others combine more decadent dinners like Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni with big salads and steamed veggies. There’s room for both in our balanced diets.

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This salad is decidedly healthier. It starts with a healthy grain (farro — you can find it at most supermarkets and, of course, health food stores) and is topped with a good-for-you green (baby kale, which is as earthy as its adult version but a little easier on the palate) and spicy-sweet warm sweet potatoes, along with a refreshing dressing. Yes, it’s healthy, but it’s also a hearty, warm salad.

Have you tried farro? It’s an ancient grain, meaning it’s been hitting tables for centuries, and it’s good for you — and delicious. Popular in ancient Rome, farro is rich in fiber, protein and iron. When cooked, it’s soft with a slightly sweet nuttiness.

Warm Chipotle Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

That’s the base for this powerhouse salad that includes baby kale (packed with Vitamins A and C!) and sweet potatoes (packed with fiber and Vitamin A!). But all the healthfulness is nothing if the dish doesn’t actually taste good. Fortunately, with layers of flavor, this is something you’ll not only want to eat — but want to eat again and again.

The sweet potatoes, a sometimes divisive vegetable, are glazed with a chipotle maple sauce and slow-roasted to sweet-spicy perfection. It’s that slow-roasting process that ensures these babies are soft, sweet and perfectly glazed without burning.

To bring this all together, the salad is finished off with a quick and easy lime cilantro vinaigrette that brightens the dish with a citrus-y finish.

Even some sweet potato haters relish digging into this warm salad. And if they don’t? More for me.

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Warm Chipotle Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Farro and Kale
Serves: 6-8 servings
 

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo), finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ lb sweet potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 2 sweet potatoes)
  • kosher salt
  • 4 cups cooked farro
  • 3 cups raw baby kale
Vinaigrette:
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with either nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, chopped chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, minced garlic and maple syrup. Add the sweet potato pieces and stir well to combine. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet in one layer. Season with kosher salt.
  3. Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring 2-3 times, until tender.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until well-combined.
  5. To serve: Arrange ¼ of farro on a platter and top with baby kale and sweet potatoes. Drizzle with lime-cilantro dressing. Enjoy.

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Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News, and resident cook. She writes a cooking column, Maine Course, and is also author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains." Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, Glamour.com and more.