I first made this salad on Christmas Eve of 2014. The colors are perfect for Christmas, and there is a symphony of flavors from the roasted cauliflower, earthy beets, shallots, sherry vinaigrette, and pecans that are lightly glazed with maple. The beets can be roasted ahead of time. If you are serving for a holiday, I definitely recommend roasting them a couple of days in advance, so you don’t have to tie up your oven the day of. I normally do the cauliflower the day of or last minute, as it can roast while your main dish is resting. The intention is for the salad to be served at room temp so don’t stress too much about timing.
I am often a fan of zippy salad dressings, so this dressing has a high ratio of sherry vinegar to oil. If that is not your thing, you can use a bit less vinegar and a bit more oil. I don’t call for cheese here, but I’ve served it with goat cheese before, and it would also be amazing with blue cheese.
Kale Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Beets (Serves 4-6 as a side.)
- 5 beets, about 2 inches in diameter
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 cup of pecan halves
- 1 T maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
- 1 head of cauliflower, about a pound
- 1 oz (2T) olive oil plus 2 oz, divided
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp mustard (Stoneground is my preference, but honestly it will all work here!)
- 2 oz sherry vinegar plus 1 T divided
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of Lacinato Kale
- Preheat oven to 350F. Scrub beets and slice of the ends. Put them in a small oven safe dish such as a loaf pan. Add vinegar, water, and cloves. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until the beets are fork tender. (About 80-90 minutes.) Allow to cool enough to touch and then use a kitchen towel to peel them. They will peel more easily while warm. Cool and then chill for use later.
- The day you want to serve the salad, prepare the pecans. Toss them in maple syrup and Aleppo pepper, if using, and spread out on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper if desired. Toast for about 6 minutes is a 350F oven. I usually use my toaster oven for this.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets. Toss with 1 oz of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan, and roast until lightly browned and tender, about 25-30 minutes. Then allow to cool at room temperature.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the salad dressing. Mince 2 cloves of garlic. Season with salt and allow to sit for a few minutes. Add mustard, 2 oz sherry vinegar, and 2 oz olive oil and whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Thinly slice the shallot. Season with salt and allow to sit for about five minutes. Toss with 1 T of sherry vinegar.
- Thinly slice the kale. I also use most of my stems because I like their crunch, but I usually discard the very ends. Combine the kale, cauliflower, and some of the shallots, and toss with about half of the dressing.
- Cut prepared beets into bite sized pieces and toss with the other half of the dressing.
- Layer the kale mixture with the beets in a serving bowl. If you toss them all together, the cauliflower with turn pink, but if you don’t mind, you can do it. It will taste just as good. Top with the maple glazed pecans and remaining shallots, and serve.