Prepare Ahead Kale Salad: Sweet Potatoes, Maple Vinaigrette

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This Autumn Salad of kale and warm honey mustard vinaigrette with sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds is the perfect salad for parties and potlucks. 

I have brought this salad to parties at least ten times, and it’s always the first to go and the star of the table. I’ve seen cupcakes, cookies and other foods have to go back home, but never this salad. No matter how large of a bowl I bring, there is never enough.

You can mix the kale with other greens if you choose to, as I did in this version with arugula.

Potluck Salad

This is a perfect potluck salad because you  can have everything ready within twenty minutes in the morning, and then put it all together with the dressing about three to four  hours in advance. The marination massages the kale, and brings it to a place that is very different than what most people think.

People will appreciate seeing a green sitting on the table that is gorgeous, appetizing and satisfying. It might make them feel better about the dips and chips and sweets they are also eating, and for those who are into that paleo craze, they will stop and thank you.

This is that perfect salad for this time of year, whether it’s a tail gating party, Halloween, or Thanksgiving, because you dress the salad at least two hours in advance. At Christmas, you can just add in some pomegranate seeds. I’ve learned that while people love the cookies and treats at a Holiday party, they are so grateful to see a good salad.

I used sweet potatoes, but you can use butternut squash.

I used toasted pumpkin seeds, but you can use toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts.

Add in some chopped up crispy pancetta or bacon.  Add in citrus for some brightness if you have it on hand.

Make a Warm Vinaigrette with Maple Syrup

I used a warm honey mustard vinaigrette that can be made with maple syrup. Either works incredibly well. If you don’t have time to dress the salad ahead, warm the dressing. It will relax the kale. Also add the pumpkin seeds  and sweet potatoes when they are hot. Kale can handle this.

The KEY to this salad is to taste it before serving, make sure it’s seasoned with enough salt and pepper. 

If  there is salad left over,  just refrigerate and sauté the left overs in a pan. It takes on a slightly different melted down texture, but still remains somewhat structured and it’s very good. The only thing I would not add to this salad is cheese, which I think would drown the nice flavors the sweet potato brings.

Autumn Kale Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette 2 by Angela Roberts

The dressing is sweetened by either honey or maple syrup to offset the heavy dose of vinegar and the punch of mustard, but it is so good. It’s going to taste a bit vinegary when you taste it, but will settle down as the kale takes hold of it.

This particular kale salad is similar to the one I made here, but I gave it an Autumn twist.

Tell me, do you take salads to parties? Are you ready for the Fall flavors?

If you really love kale salads, you might want to try this Tuscan Kale Salad  with a lemony dressing.

Chopped Kale Salad with Almonds, Lemon, Pecorino Cheese by Angela Roberts

More Kale Recipes from Spinach Tiger

Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Autumn Salad: Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Pumpkin Seeds, Cranberries, Warm Maple Vinaigrette

A perfect Autumn Salad that is good for any party or Fall gathering. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, pears and apples give color, taste and texture.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 2 bunches lacinato kale the long skinny kind aka Tuscan kale
  • roasted sweet pototoes
  • 1 small apple or pear
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • Warmed Maple Vinaigrette

For Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled, cubed or one large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Warm Maple Vinaigrette

  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • Wash and dry kale.
  • Remove ribs from kale. I used a sharp knife to cut out the ribs.
  • Cut kale into bite size pieces.
  • Slice apple and pear into thin slices, leaving skin on, or cube, whichever you prefer.
  • Add in just enough dressing to salad to wet the leaves. Save some of the dressing to add in warm right before serving. At that point, I’ll warm up the dressing in the microwave.
  • Add warmed roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin seeds, saving some of each for top of bowl. Gently toss so as to not break up sweet potatoes.
  • Season with salt the pepper.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

  • Mix olive oil with cayenne, cinnamon, maple syrup, nutmeg.
  • Toss potatoes in this oil, using just enough to wet potatoes.
  • Roast for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, until potatoes are soft, but still firm.
  • You can toast the pumpkin seeds at this time. They only take 5 minutes.

Warmed Cider Vinaigrette

  • Put all the ingredients in blender and blend until thoroughly emulsified. If using a Vitamix put the garlic clove in whole. If using a blender, dice the garlic first.
  • You will want to dress the kale at least an hour in advance. This breaks down the kale.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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  1. 5 stars
    I have never liked kale and never cared for mustard, so I thought I would hate this salad. But really, it is now my favorite. I would encourage you, if you are one of those people like I was who hates kale, just give this a try. The way this all comes together, it does not end up tasting mustardy and the kale takes on a a totally different texture and flavor. I LOVE it! I will note, Make sure you use the Tuscan kale rather than the curly kale, which seems to be more common.

  2. Very simple and yummy. My family members loved it. Don’t possess mango, and so I used berry.

  3. 5 stars
    Had to check this out once you mentioned it at Pumpkin Brownie post — This looks great. We always eat salad with all our main meals and I hate having a ho hum salad at Thanksgiving. This looks great. The family I know would love it!! Thank for the inspiration!!

  4. This is now my favourite kale salad! I tried this for the office Christmas party and everyone loved it (even non-kale eaters). Total hit with everyone and it now is a staple at home. I reduced the peppers a bit but the heat is what makes this salad sing.

  5. Looks delicious — you should have put one of your perfectly baked ‘fried’ eggs on top. I enjoyed those posts too. Now I’m off to read your paleo post — you’ve been busy!

  6. Angela this salad embodies all things Autumn…colorful and healthful using some of Autumn’s best food finds. A great recipe and perhaps I will work this into one of my suppers this coming week. Happy October!

  7. Lovely salad Angela…Had to laugh too about that ‘paleo-craze’ Lol… But you’re right, this would be a perfect salad for any autumn buffet. I’ve never actually had kale in a salad but I’m gonna try this for sure!

    1. Would love to try this, but I am one of those people who cannot digest kale. Has anyone tried this with just spinach? Thanks!

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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