Kale, farro, and roasted yam salad

Why are certain foods considered “super foods”? And why, please, can’t chips, salsa, and cookies (insert your favorite junk food here) be super foods? The answer lies in nutrient density. Chips and cookies – all simple carbs, salt and sugar. What does your body get out of those? For starters, empty calories waiting to be stored as fat around your waist, water retention and bloating, followed by short lived emotional satisfaction leading to wanting more.

Super foods on the other hands, provide your body with lots of needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and slow releasing complex carbs, keeping you full longer, and less in need of a sugar and carb fix in a short while.

It seems that the more intense the color of the fruit or vegetable, the higher the nutritional value, so orange yams pack more punch than white potatoes, kale scores over regular cabbage, and deep purple blue berries are higher in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients than, say, raspberries. Although, you’d still be better off eating raspberries than cookies! While there is no scientific study showing that super foods have any specific health benefits or cure or prevent any particular diseases, intuitively it makes sense that grains, berries, dark vegetables and legumes are superior in nutritional value over their more pale relatives and highly processed refined foods and thus hold an important place in a healthy diet.

Roasting yams brings out their awesome flavor even more. We can’t resist eating them straight off the baking sheet as soon as they are done and they make a simple side for any meal. Combining them with a grain and softened kale turns the orange morsels into a complete and nutritious side, or simple lunch or dinner. If you can’t find farro, use quinoa or cooked barley. I found precooked farro at Trader Joe’s, done in 15 minutes! We had this salad with pounded chicken breast quickly sautéed over high heat and seasoned with just salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. More power to super foods!

Don’t skip the step of softening the kale, it really makes a big difference, and takes some of the rawness out of it.

(This post comes to us from Dr. Eva Vertelney, who writes an excellent healthy food blog, The Doctor Will Feed You Now.)

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry farro, cooked in plenty of salted water until tender, drained well
  • 1 head lacinato (also called dinosaur) kale, or regular kale
  • 1 large yam, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  •  
  • For dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red onion or shallot, finely chopped 

Directions

  1. Toss yams with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle of coarse salt on nonstick baking sheet. Roast in 350 degree oven until tender, for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Then, cut central stem out of each kale leaf, and slice cross wise into ribbons.
  3. Rinse well and spin dry in salad spinner.
  4. In large bowl, toss kale with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and massage leaves until they soften and collapse. Squeeze lemon wedge over kale and continue to massage it in. This can take a few minutes. It benefits from sitting until the potatoes and farro are done and cooled enough to mix in.
  5. Add cooked faro, roasted yams, walnuts and dressing and toss well.
  6. Adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
  7. Sprinkle with a bit of goat or feta cheese, if desired. Serve with simple grilled or pan roasted chicken breasts. Serves 4 as a side.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 390
  • Total Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 210 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 48 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 11 g
  • Sugars: 5 g
  • Protein: 10 g

Contributor

Eva Vertelney, MD