I don’t eat a lot of salad in the winter, mostly because I can’t find the ingredients I want. I start missing fresh, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, berries, and vibrant greens. I never thought I’d say this but in the winter, I miss salad.
So when I came across this recipe for sweet potato, kale, and chickpea sheet pan salad, I knew I had to make it. It calls for using everything good that’s in season: Crispy apples, sweet potatoes (one of my favorite winter ingredients), pomegranate seeds, and onions.
It also all comes together on one sheet pan, which I love. Yeah, you have to make the dressing in a bowl and set up the other ingredients in other bowls. But you roast most of the ingredients on a baking sheet and then you toss everything together on it once the veggies are done roasting. I don’t know about you, but I like simplicity in recipes.
My favorite part about this salad besides the roasted sweet potatoes is the different textures. One of the ways I’ve tricked myself into liking salads is playing with textures. I like combining crunchy, soft, and crisp things to keep things lively in a bowl (or in this case, a sheet pan).
This salad has crisp, juicy Honeycrisp apple slices, curly kale, crunchy almonds and chickpeas, soft sweet potatoes, hearty cheddar crumbles, and charred red onion slices that give it a smoky flavor. I’m tearing up a little just thinking about it.
I added pomegranate arils at the last minute because I had extra that I want to use up. I liked them as a last minute addition because they add some sweetness and zest. But if you don’t have them, feel free to omit them. The salad will be just as delicious.
In other news, every year around this time I watch “Little Women” starring a young Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. Every year, I completely lose my shit. “What are you doing?” my sister texted me yesterday afternoon. “Watching ‘Little Women’ and bawling my eyes out,” I answered. “That’s the most Emily text ever,” she said. You can’t argue with logic.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d highly recommend it. Is it a bit sappy? Yes. But that’s what the holidays are for. If it doesn’t warm your heart, you probably don’t have one.
Here’s a song that reminds me of this salad. It’s from the soundtrack of “Little Women,” which is one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time.
Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Sheet Pan Salad
for the salad:
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch-thick wedges
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 bunch curly kale, stems discarded, leaves sliced into 1/2-inch ribbons
1/4 cup crumbled 3-year aged cheddar
1 small Honeycrisp apple, halved, cored, and cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 Tbsp pomegranate arils
for the lemon-balsamic vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice from 1 large lemon (reserve extra juice)
1 tsp dijon mustard
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place it in the oven while it heats up.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
To get the sweet potatoes in wedges, cut them in half crosswise then length wise. Then, cut into wedges. Toss them in a bowl with salt and 2 Tbsp vinaigrette. Set aside.
In another bowl, toss the chickpeas and sliced red onion with salt and 1 Tbsp vinaigrette. Allow to soften.
When the oven is ready, take the sheet pan out and carefully place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on top of the parchment paper, making sure that they don’t overlap. Place the chickpea/onion mixture between them, allowing some to go on top if you run out of space.
Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Sprinkle the almonds on top and roast for about 5-7 more minutes, or until the almonds are lightly browned.
In the meantime, make the kale salad. Toss the kale with 1-2 Tbsp vinaigrette, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Let the sweet potatoes cool and then toss the salad, apple slices, pomegranate seeds, and cheddar in with the other ingredients on the sheet. I like to use tongs but you could also use your hands. Add extra vinaigrette as desired.
The leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container and still taste good the next day. Enjoy!