I almost called these “Fridge Clean-Out Kale Salads,” but then I thought you might not want to eat them if I related them to fridge cleaning. So, Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad Bowls it is. My SEO will probably be happier with me for this name, but I feel it’s important that you know these bowls are made to turn the leftovers in your fridge into a lunch that’s far more delicious than the sum of its parts. So, in the spirit of fridge-cleaning, let’s dive into these bowls, and I’ll show you my favorite way to put together a quick lunch.
To start, let’s chat about the building blocks to these salad bowls and why they’re the perfect ingredients for a throw-together lunch. All you need to do is follow these three steps:
1) Build a base: Kale! Kale keeps shockingly well in the fridge – it’s a great green to have on hand, and doesn’t turn mushy as quickly as spinach (note: we’re talking any variety other than baby kale here). I also like that kale keeps well, even when already dressed. I made up a couple of these salads and the kale wasn’t mushy, even on the second or third day, which means you can massage all the kale at once, divide it into containers and keep it for lunches for the week.
2) Make it hearty: Roasted Vegetables Here’s where the fridge clean-out part comes in. I had sweet potatoes, a shallot, and baby broccoli to use up. Other veggies I think would be delicious: asparagus, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, onions (white or red) – really anything you like! I’d recommend keeping the sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes), as they really help bulk up the salad and make it feel like a meal.
3) Make it taste good: Pesto, Hummus, Lemon Juice, Herbs I had made a spinach-walnut pesto earlier in the week, had leftover white bean and basil hummus from book club and topped everything with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh basil (I forgot the basil in the pictures though!). Regular (homemade or store-bought) pesto works wonderfully as the “salad dressing” on the kale (thinned with extra lemon juice). Hummus adds some additional flavor and protein. Definitely sprinkle on whatever fresh herbs you have left in your fridge: basil, parsley or cilantro would be my first picks.
OK, so we have our ingredients set now – are you ready for the game plan? First up: roast the veggies. I got home from traveling for work last week, and felt extraordinarily productive tossing the vegetables in the oven while I unpacked. Luckily, though it takes a bit of time, this stage is totally hands-off. Towards the end of the roasting process, you’ll massage the kale in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper (we discuss kale massages more in this post if you’re unfamiliar with the concept) and then toss it with pesto. When the vegetables come out of the oven, pile them on your kale, top with hummus and other goodies. Do you have pita chips in your house? Maybe you should eat this salad with a side of pita chips – it has hummus after all, so that feels like a good idea.
Salad? Ready. Fridge? Empty. You got this. Oh, and by the way, if you’re packing these up for lunches, you might consider packing the vegetables separately from the kale – that way you can heat them up first. I actually like them both hot and cold, so it’s totally personal preference!
Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad Bowls
Time: 50 minutes (including time to roast vegetables)
Serves: 2-4, depending on how big of a salad you want
Mixed vegetables (try: 2 sweet potatoes, 1 onion or shallot, and 8 oz baby broccoli or 1 head broccoli)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 bunch or ~10 oz bag kale (I used lacinato kale)
2-4 tablespoons pesto (try this pesto)
4-8 tablespoons hummus (any variety you like)
Freshly chopped herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Chop chosen vegetables into roughly bite-sized pieces (so they all roast in the same amount of time. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. You could also sprinkle on some garlic powder, paprika, and/or cumin to add more flavor to the vegetables at this point. Toss together to make sure all vegetables are coated. Roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables. Check them after 15-20 minutes, turning them with a spatula. Vegetables should be soft and lightly browned when done.
Meanwhile, wash and remove the thick stems of the kale, then chop into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, toss kale with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. “Massage” the kale using your (clean) hands – basically it should feel like you’re working the olive oil into the leaves. It’s ready when the leaves are softer and a darker green.
Build the bowls: toss a couple handfuls of kale with ~1 tablespoon pesto and freshly squeezed lemon juice until the leaves are covered. Layer on the roasted vegetables, add a dollop of hummus (~2 tablespoons per bowl) and finish with more lemon juice and freshly chopped herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.
Bowls can be served warm or cold and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I recommend storing the vegetables separately from the kale and heating them up in the microwave before adding to your salad bowl.