Healthy dinner in a hurry! This is a delicious, warm, sweet potato salad recipe with kale, perfect for when the days are starting to turn cooler. Packed with beta-carotene and vitamin A from the sweet potatoes and kale, plus healthy fibres from the nuts and wild rice.
We'll be using packets of microwavable basmati and wild rice, so it's a doddle to make! An ideal weekday dinner, or lunch, when you're short on time but don't want to compromise on nutrition and taste.
What's to love about this recipe
- This easy sweet potato salad is quick to make, taking no more than half an hour.
- Packed full of nutritional value.
- Can be served as a stand-alone meal or a side dish.
- Full of texture and visual appeal from the colourful ingredients.
- Customisable salad with the ability to add your favourite extra toppings.
- It's quite a robust salad and re-heats well, making it ideal for meal prep.
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
We love using the orange-fleshed variety, usually with red skins. They are much sweeter than white sweet potatoes and hold their shape better when cooked.
We use the mixed packets of basmati and wild rice (Tilda brand in the UK, Uncle Ben's in the USA).
You can cook your own favourite rice variety from scratch. You will need 500g of cooked rice in total. Great options are wild rice, brown rice or a blend of the two. Black rice in particular looks fantastic with the orange sweet potato and bright green kale!
We use red onions for the colour contrast. White onions also work fine.
Part of the cabbage family and provides a lovely texture and lots of nutrition to the salad.
Unlike green pesto with a basil base, red pesto is made from red peppers or tomatoes.
We use pecan- and pine nuts. We suggest to toast the pine nuts beforehand. The flavour is much more intense when doing so. However, we have used them un-toasted and it works perfectly well too.
Other nuts to consider adding are cashews or walnuts.
How to make this recipe
Peel the sweet potatoes using a large, sharp knife. Slice them into chunks that are roughly 2.5cm (1 inch) in width.
Sweet potatoes can be quite difficult and hard to slice. Use extreme caution when slicing them, working slowly with a large sharp knife.
Place a damp paper towel or tea towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from slipping on the counter when you need to apply downward force with the knife.
You can chop the onion reasonably small, but big enough for a bite, circa 1cm (0.4 inch) pieces.
Break the raw pecan pieces into smaller bite-sized chunks by hand rather than precisely chopping them with a knife. Larger irregular chunks with a bit of texture work best for adding bite and crunch to the salad.
For the pine nuts, toast them lightly in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Toasting intensifies their flavour. Set them aside in a small bowl.
Add the sweet potato chunks to a saucepan of lightly salted water. Cook over medium heat until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork but still holding their shape without falling apart.
It is better to lightly salt the sweet potatoes while they cook so the salt has time to penetrate and season them, rather than only salting them once added to the salad.
Once cooked, thoroughly drain the sweet potatoes and then place the lid back on the pot to allow them to steam dry for 1-2 minutes. This also keeps them warm while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Cook the microwave rice according to the packet instructions.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sliced red onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are soft and turning lightly golden brown.
Add the chopped kale leaves to the onions. Continue cooking for 2 full minutes, stirring frequently. The volume of kale will reduce dramatically as it cooks down.
After cooking the kale for 2 minutes, stir in the red pepper pesto until combined.
Add the cooked rice and the toasted nuts to the skillet with the onion and kale mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Gently fold together using a spatula. Cook for 1-2 more minutes over low heat to warm everything through.
Finally, add the cooked sweet potato cubes to the skillet. Gently fold them into the rice and kale mixture, taking care to keep the potato chunks intact rather than mashing them.
Serve the salad warm in a large bowl, or let cool to room temperature if preferred.
- Before opening the packets of rice to microwave, place them sideways on the counter top and press down gently to break the rice up a little. It makes it easier to mix the rice in with the rest of the ingredients later.
Variations and additional add-ins
- Black beans.
- Green onions (spring onions).
- A squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice.
- Pomegranate seeds.
- Cooked and halved Brussels sprouts.
- Creamy avocado slices as a topping for some added healthy fats.
- A sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
- Crispy bacon.
- A drizzle of olive oil or Tahini dressing.
- Fresh cilantro (coriander).
- Red bell pepper.
- Goat cheese, blue cheese, whipped feta cheese or a grating of parmesan.
- Add dried cranberries for pops of colour and sweetness.
- Swap the kale for baby spinach.
- Add a tangy honey mustard dressing.
- Best served warm but also tasty at room temperature.
- Serve as a stand-alone main or a side dish. It's the perfect side dish to grilled meat dishes or a BBQ.
Any leftover salad will keep well in the fridge, stored in an airtight container, for 2 days. Gently warm through in a pan, or for a couple of minutes in the microwave.
Not suitable for freezing.
This nutritious sweet potato salad is a great example of healthy eating. Sweet potatoes provide important vitamin C to support your immune system, while the kale adds protein for staying power. Between the sweet potatoes, kale, brown rice and pecans, this salad packs a hefty nutritional punch.
Absolutely! You can sauté them in a pan with olive oil for about 15 min. Alternatively, you can use roasted sweet potatoes. Roast them in the oven on a sheet pan with a bit of honey or maple syrup and orange zest for 35-40 minutes.
No you don't. The skin is packed full of goodness and like potatoes, you can eat them with the skin on.
Recipes to serve with sweet potato salad
Healthy Sweet Potato Salad
- 800 gram sweet potatoes, the orange variety - peeled and chopped
- 2 packets 2-minute microwave rice - 'Basmati and wild rice' mix - 250g each
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200 gram red onion - roughly one large onion, chopped
- 200 gram kale
- 100 gram red pesto
- 50 gram pecan nuts - broken into smaller pieces
- 50 gram pine nuts - toasted
- salt and pepper
- Start by peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes into smaller chunks, about 1 inch/2.5cm in diameter
- Peel and chop the red onion into small pieces.
- Break the pecan nuts into smaller pieces by hand, no need to chop them finely with a knife.
- In a hot pan, toast the pine nuts until golden.
- Add the sweet potatoes to a large lidded saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Add salt to taste.
- Place the lid on and cook until the sweet potatoes are done but still holding their shape, about 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and place the lid back on to steam dry and to keep them warm. Set aside for now.
- Cook the microwave rice according to the packet instructions
- Add the olive oil to a large pan and heat up. Add the chopped onions. Fry on a medium-high heat until soft and golden.
- Add the kale to the onion and stir through. It will look like a lot of kale at first but it reduces down quite quickly. Fry for 2 minutes whilst stirring.
- Add the red pesto and heat through.
- Add the cooked rice, pecan nuts and toasted pine nuts to the kale. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Finally, tip in the cooked sweet potato chunks and gently combine. A large spoon works well for this.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be served as a side dish or a main meal
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.