This kale sweet potato salad is the most satisfying mix of sweet, salty and savory. We combine fresh and roasted kale, creamy chunks of sweet potato, juicy grapes, dried tart cherries and walnuts into a generous salad. A crispy pancetta balsamic dressing pulls it all together!
A few things about this kale sweet potato salad make it super delicious and exciting. For one, we take advantage of the hot oven from roasting the sweet potatoes and also roast half the kale. The addition of crispy, salty kale chips to a kale salad is a concept I once saw from Alison Roman, and it’s just so fun.
We ramp up the sweet notes with dried cherries and juicy grapes, then we offset that with salty, crunchy stuff. Like the crispy pancetta dressing, frilly roast kale and walnuts.
It’s a salad that is brimming with textures, flavors, and beautiful colors-- perfect for autumn and winter when we all want salads but struggle to be inspired by the produce aisle.
I hope this sweet potato kale salad keeps you reaching for vegetables and sharing creative and delicious food with your friends and family, no matter the season!
what you need for this kale sweet potato salad:
- sweet potatoes
- dried tart cherries
- red grapes
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
how to make the kale sweet potato salad:
- Roast the sweet potatoes and half of the kale.
- Massage remaining kale with salt and place in salad bowl.
- Cook pancetta, save half for topping the salad.
- Make pancetta balsamic vinaigrette.
- Assemble salad: massaged kale, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted kale, grapes, dried cherries, walnuts, crispy pancetta.
- Toss with half the dressing and serve, passing more dressing on the side.
ways to modify this roasted sweet potato kale salad and make it your own:
- Add grilled chicken or sliced steak
- Toss in rinsed chickpeas
- Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds for extra pop
- Swap dried cranberries for cherries
- Roast any winter squash in place of the sweet potatoes
- Use a mix of your favorite kale varieties for extra color and texture
- Swap in candied pecans instead of toasted walnuts
- Use smoky bacon in place of the pancetta
- Add cubed avocado
- Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese
how to make this kale salad ahead:
This salad is crazy flexible and can be made fully ahead, or prepped in stages so the final assembly is really quick.
Kale and sweet potatoes are really sturdy, and can stand in the dressing without falling apart. But it’s the roasted kale that will get soggy and lose its fantastic crispiness-- so always add that just before serving.
You can do any combination below to cut down on prep time before the meal.
what you can prep:
- Fresh kale: can be chopped, rinsed and dried up to 2 days ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Roasted kale: can be roasted the morning of.
- Sweet potatoes: can be roasted up to 1 day ahead.
- Pancetta balsamic dressing: can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store in the fridge. Gently reheat it for 10- 15 seconds in the microwave to soften the fat and re-emulsify the dressing.
- Roast the walnuts up to a week ahead.
my entertaining strategy:
I prefer to chop and roast everything in the morning. Assemble the salad with everything but the roasted kale up to a few hours ahead. I make the dressing an hour or so ahead, so I don’t need to refrigerate it. Then just before serving, I throw in the crispy kale and toss everything with the dressing.
a few more tips:
- Most often, pancetta is available in pre-diced packages in the grocery store. Unfortunately, it’s chopped by a machine and that machine doesn’t usually do a great job. I prefer to go through and dice the pieces a little finer, while also tossing out the chunks of straight fat. It’s a way to use what’s available, but make it a little bit better!
- Use any type of kale you want here! My favorite kale for salads is tuscan kale, but my favorite for roasting is curly kale. Those frilly edges just get so crispy and shattery! So I usually buy 1 bunch of each, chop and wash them, mix them up in a bowl and pull out half of that mixture to roast. It keeps the salad fun and interesting!
more kale salad recipes to try!Print
kale sweet potato salad
This kale sweet potato salad tosses fresh and roasted kale, sweet potato chunks, grapes and walnuts with a crispy pancetta balsamic dressing.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Salad
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: American
sweet potato kale salad
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 2 bunches kale, ribs discarded, leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ¾ cup red grapes, halved
- ½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
- ½ cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch-thick cubes
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with foil and set aside.
- Place sweet potatoes on one sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Place half of kale on the second baking sheet and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bake sweet potatoes for about 25 minutes, until tender and caramelized, flipping halfway through. Bake kale, stirring once or twice, until crisp on edges and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put remaining kale in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Massage the kale until it’s tender and dark green. Top with dried cherries, grapes and walnuts; set aside.
- To make dressing, place 1 tablespoon olive oil and pancetta in a medium-sized, cold skillet and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta browns and get crispy, 8- 10 minutes.
- Set half the pancetta on a plate to cool. Transfer the rest, along with the fat, to a jar and add balsamic, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour in remaining ½ cup olive oil, tightly seal lid, and shake until combined. Taste and add more salt or sugar, if needed.
- Add roasted sweet potatoes, crispy kale and leftover pancetta to the salad and toss with half the dressing. Serve, passing the remaining dressing on the side.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 359
- Sugar: 7.9g
- Sodium: 33mg
- Fat: 32g
- Saturated Fat: 6.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 24g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 5.1g
- Cholesterol: 14mg