Kale, farro, and roasted yam salad

This salad packs a superfood punch.

Contributed by Eva Vertelney, MD


Kale, farro, and roasted yam salad

Why are certain foods considered superfoods? And why, please, can’t chips, salsa, cookies, or (insert your favorite junk food here) be superfoods? The answer lies in nutrient density. Chips and cookies are all simple carbs, fat, 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, and short-lived emotional satisfaction leading to wanting more.

Superfoods, on the other hand, 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 blueberries are higher in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients than, say, raspberries. Although, you’d still be better off eating raspberries than cookies! While there is no scientific study showing that superfoods have any specific health benefits or cure or prevent any particular diseases, it makes sense that grains, berries, dark vegetables, and legumes are superior in nutritional value over their paler 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 the orange morsels with a grain and softened kale turns the dish into a simple lunch or dinner. If you can’t find farro, use quinoa or cooked barley. I found precooked farro, 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 superfoods!

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
  • 1 large yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 head lacinato (also called dinosaur) kale, or regular kale
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Goat cheese or feta, optional

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. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a pot of salted water, cook farro until tender and drain well.
  3. On a nonstick baking sheet, toss yams with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle of coarse salt. Roast until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the central stem out of each kale leaf, and slice crosswise into ribbons.
  5. Rinse well and spin dry in salad spinner.
  6. In a large bowl, toss kale with 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 yams and farro are done and cooled enough to mix in.
  7. In a small jar or bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix well. 
  8. In the large bowl of kale, add cooked farro, roasted yams, walnuts, and dressing. Toss well.
  9. Sprinkle with a bit of goat or feta cheese, if desired. Serve with simple grilled or pan-roasted chicken breasts for a heartier meal.

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
  • Total sugars: 5 g (0 g added sugars)
  • Protein: 10 g