A medley of perfectly caramelized roasted root vegetables take this warm kale salad to new heights. You’ll love the honey mustard vinaigrette and candied sunflower seeds!

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: This salad is a perfect remedy for the winter blahs.

How long it takes: 50 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sheet pan, small skillet, sharp knife
Servings: 4

Warm kale salad with quinoa and roasted vegetables.
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Awhile back, I posted a list of 20+ Amazing Kale Recipes. I love ’em all but this recipe? It’s going to the head of the class!

I first tried a salad similar to this one at a neighborhood restaurant I visited with my mom and sister. It’s a place we love to hang out at especially when it’s just the three of us. The restaurant has a great vibe and fantastic food. Needless to say, we share what we order so we can sample more than one dish.

I hate to say that I didn’t do much sharing of this salad. One forkful and I was in love! The warm root vegetables were perfectly caramelized, the dressing was amazing, and the smoked cheese was just the right touch. So, so good!

Of course, it didn’t take me long to get busy recreating this amazing salad at home and I have to say, I did a pretty good job of it. My salad isn’t exactly the same but it’s every bit as amazing.

Make a warm kale salad a priority this week. You really do need to try this recipe!

About This Roasted Vegetable Salad

It’s nutritious and hearty. This is a hearty salad made with roasted vegetables, kale, sunflower seeds, and quinoa which can easily be a main course salad. It’s highly nutritious and so satisfying.

It’s easy to make. The salad isn’t difficult to make but there are a lot of moving parts, including a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette and candied sunflower seeds. Keep reading for a few time-saving tips. I assure you, this salad is WORTH every moment you spend preparing it.

Three Types of Kale

There are many different varieties of kale but you can boil it down to three basic types. Curly kale has large dark green leaves that are very curly, and a prominent fibrous stem. It’s usually sold in a bunch with the stems attached at the bottom. Lacinato kale (often known as elephant kale, dinosaur kale, or Tuscan kale) is also sold in a bunch. The dark bluish green leaves are narrower and bumpy, rather than curly. It is more tender than curly kale. Baby kale is immature kale leaves. The tiny leaves are often sold in containers and are more appropriate for salads.
Kale salad on a spoon.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Turnip, Carrot, Golden Beet, Parsnip: This quartet of root vegetables is pretty amazing. They each bring a unique flavor to the table and I think you’re really going to enjoy the combination. Yellow beets are preferable to red beets because they won’t turn your salad pink. If one of these vegetables isn’t available or you don’t care for one, feel free to make substitutions using other root vegetables.
  • Olive Oil, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper: The diced vegetables are tossed with this savory mixture of olive oil and seasonings before they go into the oven to roast.
  • Kale: I’ve tried both curly kale and lacinato kale for the salad. Both are fine but I think I prefer the lacinato kale because it’s a bit more tender. The kale is lightly roasted with the root vegetables just until it’s wilted.
  • Quinoa: This seed/grain is so nutritious and it gives the salad a little extra substance. I like to buy a bag of quinoa and cook up the whole bag at once. It freezes well and can be used in so many ways. For more information, check out this post: How to Freeze Quinoa. You can also purchase prepared quinoa, either frozen or in shelf-stable packets which are super easy and convenient.
  • Smoked Gruyère Cheese: The original salad was topped with smoked feta cheese which I had a difficult time finding so I substituted smoked Gruyère. If you’re not a fan, any hard aged cheese would be at home in this salad, or it can be omitted for a vegan, non-dairy salad.
  • Raw Sunflower Seeds: The seeds are toasted with a mixture of sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. The sugar melts as it heats up and candy coats the seeds. So delicious! Since we are a nut-free family, sunflower seeds are a good stand-in for walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc. If you prefer, sliced almonds can be substituted for the sunflower seeds.
  • Honey Mustard Vinaigrette: This easy vinaigrette consists of just four ingredients, plus salt and pepper. You’ll need olive oil, honey, mustard, and white balsamic vinegar. There is usually a jar of homemade honey mustard vinaigrette in my fridge. It’s easy to make and goes well on many different salads.
Ingredients needed for recipe including kale and carrots.

How To Make This Salad

Prep and roast the vegetables. Turn the oven on to preheat, with the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. You’ll need a large sheet pan, 13 x 18 inches.

The vegetables need to be peeled or scrubbed very thoroughly. Cut them into a small dice, about a half inch, as evenly as possible. Smaller pieces roast more quickly and are easier to eat in a salad.

Toss the diced root vegetables with the oil and seasonings; spread them out on the sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes.

Vegetables on sheet pan.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir the vegetables. Sprinkle the shredded kale evenly over the vegetables and put the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes.

Kale added to sheet pan.

Take the pan out of the oven and stir the kale into the roasted vegetables.

Vegetables and kale stirred together.

Set the pan aside to cool slightly while you assemble the rest of the salad ingredients.

Toast the sunflower seeds. While the vegetables are roasting, toast the sunflower seeds. Put them into a small skillet along with the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Sunflower seeds, not yet candied.

Toast them over medium heat, stirring pretty constantly, until the sugar melts and the seeds turn golden brown.

Candied sunflower seeds in frying pan.

Immediately remove them from the pan and spread them on a plate to cool. Don’t leave them in the pan because the residual heat will scorch the seeds.

Whisk together the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper until it’s smooth and combined (emulsified).

Salad dressing in small jar.

Assemble the salad. Are you ready to put everything together? Transfer the roasted root vegetables and kale into a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa and cubed cheese. Top with the vinaigrette, stirring to combine it with the salad. You may not need all of the vinaigrette, depending on how much dressing you like.

Dressing being poured on salad.

Spoon the salad into shallow bowls or plates. Garnish with the toasted sunflower seeds and serve immediately. Ahhh! Enjoy!

Dressing being poured on.

Looking for something to serve with the salad? Try artisan style Dutch oven bread or homemade no knead whole wheat bread. A simple homemade muffin like these apple cinnamon muffins or pumpkin bran muffins go great, too.

Make It Your Own

  • Choose your own lineup of vegetables to roast. As long as you end up with roughly four cups of diced root vegetables, pretty much anything goes.
  • Take the salad up another notch! Top it with cranberries, raisins, or dried cherries. Instead of sunflower seeds, try toasted pecans, toasted walnuts, or pine nuts.
  • Add more protein with chickpeas. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, and rub them dry, removing the skins as much as possible. Toss the chickpeas with the root vegetables, with an additional tablespoon of oil. Roast as directed. For more information, check out this post, roasted chickpeas.
  • Make it dairy-free. Instead of smoked cheese, make the salad with cooked and crumbled bacon. You’ll still get the smoky flavor but without the cheese.
  • Use a different grain. If you’re not a fan of quinoa, substitute cooked barley, farro, couscous, or you could even leave the grain out.
  • Don’t want to turn your oven on? This quinoa salad with orange & grapes is delicious and very versatile. Try my barley salad with tomatoes, cucumber and parsley or a classic spinach salad.
Overhead view of salad.

Make-Ahead Ideas

Head start: Prep the quinoa, dice the root vegetables, shred the kale, and make the dressing a day or two ahead of time; store separately in the refrigerator. The sunflower seeds can be toasted up to a week ahead of time. Once they have completely cooled, store them at room temperature in an airtight container.

When you’re ready to serve the salad, take everything out of the fridge, roast the vegetables and kale as directed, and assemble the salad. Easy peasy!

Storage Tips

This salad is best eaten immediately but it keeps surprisingly well too. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and makes an awesome lunch.

Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this warm kale salad recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #46. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!

We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.

More Kale Salads

Recipe

Warm Kale Salad Recipe with Roasted Root Vegetables

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
A medley of perfectly caramelized roasted root vegetables take this warm kale salad to new heights. You'll love the honey mustard vinaigrette and candied sunflower seeds!
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup diced peeled turnip, ½ inch dice (1 medium turnip)
  • 1 cup diced carrot, ½ inch dice (2 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup diced peeled golden beets, ½ inch dice (1 large beet)
  • 1 cup diced peeled parsnip, ½ inch dice (1 large parsnip)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 cups firmly packed finely shredded kale (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa ( cup dry quinoa, prepared as directed on package)
  • 3 oz. smoked Gruyère cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes (heaping ½ cup)
  • cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon salt

Honey mustard vinaigrette (makes about ½ cup)

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss turnips, carrots, and beets with 2 tablespoons olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on large rimmed baking pan.
  • Place on lower rack in oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir vegetables; add kale in a single layer on top. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and toss kale with the root vegetables.
  • While vegetables are roasting, make candied sunflower seeds. In a small skillet, combine sunflower seeds, sugar, cayenne, and teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, until sugar melts and coats the seeds, and seeds are toasted and golden brown. Remove seeds from pan immediately to a plate lined with parchment paper to cool.
  • Make vinaigrette: combine olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine roasted vegetables with kale, quinoa, cheese, and vinaigrette, to taste. You may not need all of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately, topped with sunflower seeds.

Notes

  • Either curly kale or lacinato kale (Tuscan, dinosaur, elephant) can be used. Lacinato kale is a bit more tender.
  • If you don’t care for all 4 root vegetables, feel free to substitute as you wish, as long as you end up with roughly 4 cups of diced root vegetables.
  • Sliced almonds can be substituted for the sunflower seeds. Toast as directed.
  • To prepare quinoa, try Instant Pot quinoa. It freezes well, too, so make a big batch. You can also buy pre-made quinoa.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 541kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 545mg, Potassium: 947mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 15697IU, Vitamin C: 110mg, Calcium: 531mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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