I know I’m not alone in the feeling that Thanksgiving dinner is all about the sides. Even before going vegan, I didn’t see the appeal of turkey, so my holiday meals have always consisted of a mash up of all the many delicious side dishes. This Farro Sweet Potato Salad is the perfect vegan side dish that will satisfy all of your dinner guests, vegan and non-vegan alike. This hearty grain salad combines farro with slightly spicy roasted sweet potatoes, massaged kale, and crunchy pepitas, all coated in an apple cider vinaigrette.
For many years, I ignored sweet potatoes due to the fact that I was only familiar with the sickly-sweet, marshmallow-studded iteration that often shows up on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the fact that sweet potatoes can be prepared in a much more savory way.
Roasting is by far my favorite method to quickly and easily turn sweet potatoes into a delicious side dish, and I love the fact that you can change it up so much just by using different spice blends. In this recipe, the addition of chili and garlic powders provide a savory counterpoint to the natural sweet undertone of the vegetable. Roasting at a high heat transforms the sweet potatoes into tender, bite-sized nuggets.
People often complain about the fact that kale is too tough and bitter. However, a simple method like massaging can make all the difference. Once the kale has been de-stemmed and roughly chopped, simply place it into a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Then, use your hands to massage or knead the kale leaves. Within minutes, the leaves will transform right before your eyes. The end result is softened, tender leaves that dramatically shrink down in volume. Not only is the texture altered, but the bitterness also dissipates during the massage process.
This hearty grain salad starts with a base of pleasantly chewy farro. Minced garlic and shallots are stirred into the still-hot farro, then the roasted sweet potatoes and massaged kale are tossed in. Next, a simple vinaigrette of apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard is drizzled on to provide a bright, acidic tang. Finally, the salad is topped off with perfectly crunchy pepitas.Print
Farro is an ancient grain that has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. It is reminiscent of barley but cooks in only 20 minutes. This hearty vegan grain salad combines farro with chunks of slightly spicy roasted sweet potato, massaged kale, and crunchy pepitas in a tangy vinaigrette.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
- ⅓ cup plus 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 ¼ tsp sea salt, divided
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ cups farro
- 3 Tbsp minced shallot
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 bunches of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 cup pepitas, roasted
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- In a large bowl, combine diced sweet potato with 2 Tbsp of the oil, ½ tsp of the salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir well to combine. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until tender but still firm, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the farro. Combine water and ½ tsp of the salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain any excess water if necessary.
- In a large bowl, combine hot farro, shallot, and garlic and stir well to combine. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine kale, 1 Tbsp of the oil, and ½ tsp of the salt. Using your hands, knead or massage the kale until tender and softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add kale and sweet potatoes to farro and toss well to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining ⅓ cup of the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and remaining ¾ tsp of the salt and whisk until completely combined. Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss well to coat.
- Top salad with pepitas and serve.