Roasted Veggie & Wild Rice Salad (serve warm or cold)
Yield: 6-8 side dish servings or 4 entrée portions

Cooked and sliced sausage adds welcome flavor and oomph for the meat lovers in your crowd.
For the Salad
  • 2 sweet potatoes (8-10 ounces each), chopped
  • 3 cups bite-size broccoli florets (about 1 medium-large head of broccoli)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 6-7 cups (from about one 8- to 10-ounce bunch) slivered or finely chopped kale leaves (tough stems removed; could substitute a mix of spinach, Swiss chard, or your favorite greens*)
  • 2 cups cooked brown or wild rice (from 2/3 cup uncooked; may substitute quinoa or grain of choice**)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans*** (may use pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds instead)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta or goat cheese (omit for vegan option)
For the White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or another container with a tight-fitting lid, and shake well to emulsify. The dressing may be prepared several days in advance and refrigerated. Return to room temperature and shake well before using. (See tip below.)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the chopped sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Tip: If you start with a bowl large enough to toss all of the salad ingredients, you can use one bowl throughout the entire process.) Spread the sweet potatoes in an even layer on a large greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, and then remove from the oven and toss the potatoes for even cooking.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, add the broccoli to the same mixing bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Once the sweet potatoes have been tossed, gently push them to one side of the baking sheet, and spread the broccoli in an even layer on the other side.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked through, and the broccoli is crisp-tender.  Remove from the oven, and transfer the sweet potatoes and broccoli to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the kale, cooked rice, cranberries, pecans, feta, and vinaigrette. Toss to thoroughly combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate for 3-5 days.
Notes
  • *I like to use kale in this salad because it holds up well for several days as leftovers. Feel free to use your favorite greens. For those who find kale to be too tough or fibrous, try massaging the slivered kale with your fingers for a minute or two. The leaves will turn a darker shade of green and soften in the process.
  • **Wild rice is my favorite addition, although I’ve made this salad with quinoa and brown rice. When preparing wild rice according to the package directions, be sure to check on the early side of the specified cooking time—even taking a taste to avoid overcooked rice. Most labels call for 45 minutes, but I find this to be a bit too long.
  • ***To easily toast pecans, place them on a dry baking sheet (I often use a cake pan for small amounts), and bake for approximately 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Bake them just until they become aromatic, watching closely towards to end to avoid burning.
  • Tip: If you like a heavy coating of dressing, you may wish to double the recipe. In this case, start by adding half of it to the salad to start, and then add more to taste. When planning on leftovers (or if you go heavy on any of the ingredients), it is nice to have some extra dressing to freshen them, as the rice absorbs moisture over time. Extra dressing will keep for a week or more and tastes great on a variety of green and grain-based salads.
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