From the time I met her, my friend Tori raved about a salad place in D.C. called SweetGreen.
At that time, I had never heard of a salad-only restaurant, and I wasn't totally convinced that it was as amazing as she said it was.
But then I spent this past summer in D.C. and Tori (who now lives in D.C.) took me to SweetGreen.
It is, totally amazing. On my first visit, I got a harvest grain bowl with wild rice, kale, sweet potato, apple, almonds and goat cheese. So, so good.
But, I was only in D.C. for the summer, and even if I did have a SweetGreen nearby, their salads are a little too pricey for weekly consumption. I needed to make my own version.
This salad is proof that healthy food can be really delicious. We start with a collection of stellar ingredients:
Chewy, nutty, woodsy wild rice.
Crunchy buttered almonds and tangy goat cheese.
And crispy roasted sweet potatoes.
Let's take care of ourselves this week and eat delicious things that also happen to be really good for us.
Also, let's read something or listen to something that challenges and inspires us. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, and this past week I listened this interview with poet Mary Oliver from the On Being podcast.
She read her poem "Wild Geese," which struck me deeply. I hope it brings some comfort to your week too.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Kale Salad with Wild Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Almonds, and Goat Cheese
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large honey crisp apple, cubed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 bunch kale, stems removed sliced into small pieces (feel free to use less kale if you want the wild rice and sweet potato to be the start of the show!)
honey balsamic vinaigrette for serving
Preheat oven to 425. Arrange sweet potato cubes on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss sweet potato cubes to evenly coat each piece with oil and salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, cook wild rice according to package directions. (This can also be done the day before.) Set aside to cool.
Optional: Toast the almonds. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Add almonds and stir for a minute or two until fragrant.
In a large bowl, combine kale, sweet potato cubs, apple cubes, wild rice, almonds, and goat cheese. Drizzle with honey balsamic vinaigrette.
*Makes around 3-4 full lunch-sized servings or 6-7 side-dish sized servings