A hearty and healthy kale salad packed with chewy wild rice, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cherries, and garlic rosemary dressing. Great for lunch or a side dish!
It may not be sweater season yet but we’re getting our autumn on today with my newest favorite lunch. Isn’t she a beaut?
I’ve gotta be honest…my lunch game lately has been a struggle. Frozen burritos and leftovers only get me so far. The best case scenario is having a filling, veggie-packed meal ready to go in the fridge so I don’t have to cook in the middle of the work day. Enter this gorg salad!
Kale salads like this one are the bomb for lunch because the leaves are so hearty, making it even more flavorful the next day. (I cheated and used a bag of pre-chopped kale which made it even easier!).
It truly hits all the satisfying flavor and textures notes with the creamy feta, sweet and tart dried cherries, chewy wild rice, and herbaceous vinaigrette.
Just pull it out of the fridge and grab a fork, mmmk?
And let me tell you…this guy is dressed to impress. Have you tried Marzetti’s® new Tastefully Dressed™ Roasted Garlic Rosemary Dressing with Olive Oil Vinaigrette™? It’s the hero that ties all of the hearty salad ingredients together with its bold and vibrant flavor.
Marzetti’s® new line of eight dressings and vinaigrettes is honestly making my lunch prep game a total dream in the flavor department.
And now for a peek into history! I was so excited to work with Marzetti’s® on a couple fun salad recipes because Teresa Marzetti’s career actually began right here in Columbus. In 1896 she came here from Florence and opened a small Italian restaurant, which grew to a four-star restaurant known for its salad dressings.
By 1955, the restaurant’s upstairs became a full-scale salad dressing factory and the dressings could be found in grocery stores throughout Ohio. How neat is that?
What makes these dressings so unique is that the bottle is wrapped in a super cool UV-Blocking label, which protects the real ingredients from harmful UV-rays in the grocery store aisles. They’re chock full of flavor, not preservatives!
Known for their vibrant and unique flavors (hello, Honeycrisp Apple and Asiago Caesar!), these dressings are made with real ingredients and far less preservatives than other shelf stable products thanks to the protective label.
You can find these dressings locally at Giant Eagle, Walmart, Kroger and select retailers nationwide. Click here to find one nearest you!
Fun Add-ins and Substitution Ideas
The best thing about salads is that you can make them your own based on the produce and pantry staples you have in the fridge.
To make it dairy-free, ditch the feta for creamy avocado.
Swap the feta for goat cheese if you prefer!
Roast your sweet potatoes with minced garlic and rosemary to bring out the flavor in the Marzetti® Tastefully Dressed™ dressing.
Add chickpeas, lentils, white beans, or grilled chicken for a protein boost.
Don’t have dried cherries? Add diced apple, halved grapes or dried cranberries.
Swap the walnuts for toasted pecans, almonds, pepitas or sunflower seeds.
No wild rice? Try quinoa or brown rice, or farro if you’re not gluten free.
How to Cook Wild Rice
I love the hearty chewiness of wild rice as well as the stellar nutrient profile, but you can roll with whatever grain you love. Wild rice is actually a seed from marsh grass. It contains all nine essential amino acids and boasts twice the protein content of brown rice.
You can cook it over the stove or in the pressure cooker. Since it takes anywhere from 45-55 minutes to cook over the stove, I prefer the pressure cooker method. Whatever route you choose, be sure to thoroughly rinse the rice first in a fine mesh sieve.
To prepare the rice in the pressure cooker: Add wild rice, 1 ¼ cups water and a pinch of salt to the pot. Secure the lid and make sure the valve is set to Sealing. Pressure cook on Manual/High Pressure for 18 minutes.
When the cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release remaining pressure. Open the lid and fluff with a fork.
What to Serve with This Salad
This kale salad is mighty fine on it’s own, but you have my permission to beef it up however you’d like. Just don’t beef it up without the dressing! Try serving it with:
grilled chicken, shrimp, or seared scallops
make a snack plate with hard boiled eggs, hummus, celery sticks, and fresh fruit
chickpeas or lentils, which you could stir right in for extra protein
A hearty and healthy kale salad packed with chewy wild rice, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cherries, and Marzetti® Tastefully Dressed Roasted Garlic Rosemary Dressing with Olive Oil Vinaigrette™. It stays fresh for days, making it great for lunches!
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (about 1 1/4 lbs or 4 cups)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, divided
5 oz chopped kale, stems removed (5 cups packed)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup dried tart cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup Marzetti® Tastefully Dressed™ Roasted Garlic Rosemary Dressing with Olive Oil Vinaigrette, more to to taste
Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cook rice by combining rice, 3 cups of water, and a big pinch of salt in a medium pot. (See notes for pressure cooker directions). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. It’s done when the rice is tender but still has a bite. Remove from heat, drain rice, and set aside in a bowl to cool.
While the rice is cooking, toast walnuts by placing them on one of the baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool and raise oven temperature to 425F.
Place sweet potatoes on the other baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Use your hands to toss and make sure everything is incorporated. Arrange potatoes in an even layer, and bake for 25 minutes, tossing halfway.
Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 tsp salt and use your hands to massage the salt into the leaves for a minute or two, until the kale darkens in color and softens a bit. Add feta, dried cherries, walnuts and once they’re cooled, the wild rice and sweet potatoes. I like to set aside some of the dried cherries, walnuts and feta for sprinkling on top. Start by adding 1/4 cup dressing and toss to combine, adding more to taste if desired. Serve!
PRESSURE COOKER: Add wild rice, 1 ¼ cups water and a pinch of salt to the pressure cooker. Close lid and make sure the valve is set to Sealing. Pressure cook on Manual/High Pressure for 18 minutes. When the cycle is complete, let pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release remaining pressure. Open lid and fluff with a fork.
STORAGE: This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for up to four days.
This post is sponsored by Marzetti®. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Hummusapien possible!