This salad really should just be called the Hallie’s Favorite Things Salad because I’m a diehard fan of just about every ingredient—okay, every ingredient—in the recipe.
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil? Love, love, love, and love.
- Maple syrup and lemon juice? Two of my favorite staples.
- Chicken? A kitchen basic that never gets old.
- Slivered almonds (or pumpkin seeds) and dried cranberries (or raisins)? I could live off of these foods alone.
- Shallots? A favorite, albeit an underused one.
- Sweet potatoes? Love!
- Kale? Oh my stars. Where do I begin? How much do I love thee, oh cruciferous kale? I’d count the ways but it would take way too long and this ingredient list is already getting wordy. So suffice it to say that my love for kale runs so deep and true that on some levels, I’ll admit, may even be worthy of counseling.
If this salad isn’t an explosion of my favorite things, I don’t know what is. (It’s a good thing that the TV people left the favorite things shows up to Oprah, because mine would clearly be dominated by food!)
Autumn is truly the season of abundance. Walking into my co-op or farmers’ market and feasting my eyes on all of the local produce—everything from six varieties of squash to multicolored tomatoes to sweet potatoes to onions to greens in every shape and size—gets me so excited to cook that I’m almost overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Joy because I love cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. And gratitude because I’m so blessed with the time and resources to devote to preparing wholesome, life-giving food day in and day out.
I think I get some kind of endorphin rush from cooking. It just makes me feel good to be in the kitchen working with food. It’s how I know that what I’m doing every day is the right thing for me. Even after a long day with a few roadblocks or minor disappointments that have drained me of energy, I always know that when I step into the kitchen, turn on some music, and lose myself in a bowl of kale salad, the stress will melt away and I’ll find myself centered once again.
I’ll be honest. After wrapping up the recipe testing for my cookie book, I was a little feeling worn out and uninspired when it came to food. But autumn, with its swirling leaves and vibrant colors, its cooler days and longer nights, its vibe of introspection and hunkering down, has reinvigorated me with a desire to make magic happen in the kitchen again.
This kale salad makes me happy. I love the purity of the ingredients and I love the simplicity of the preparation. I just love the whole thing.
With all the inspiration streaming into my life these days, expect some pretty tasty stuff to be coming your way this season. You don’t need a fancy kitchen or a million ingredients or specialty products on hand. Just your appetite and a willingness to get hopping in the kitchen.
I hope you’re hungry.
Harvest Chicken, Kale & Sweet Potato Salad
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 1/2 – 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups finely chopped kale (stems removed)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Place 1 inch of water in the bottom of a small pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add the sweet potato cubes. Steam for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until just tender but still holding shape. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the chicken, kale, shallot, raisins, and almonds.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, and garlic powder. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.