Chipotle Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Salad with Cilantro Pepita Sauce

Chipotle goes so well with the bitter notes of kale, the sweetness of sweet potatoes, and the creamy, nuttiness of black beans. This warm salad capitalizes on the complimentary notes of chipotle with all three ingredients in one dish. I have been combining them in different ways for a while now, and this purple kale, sweet potato, and chipotle black bean salad with cilantro pepita sauce is my favorite rendition yet!

Chipotle and garlic spiked sautéed black beans and onion plus crispy cubes of oven-baked sweet potato on top of a hearty portion of massaged purple kale makes for a filling, warm, savory, and satisfying meal. The kale softens slightly while still maintaining much of it’s raw edge. Throw on some feta cheese for tangy creaminess and some pepitas for crunch and it pretty much hits all the flavor and texture notes. Then you got this sauce…

A vegan green sauce made with pepitas, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil literally explodes with flavor. I think I could put this sauce on anything and eat. it. up. I have been making it for years and could not recommend it more!

Although I am partial to serving this as a warm salad, I ate refrigerated leftovers of this for lunch and found it delicious. The kale does not wilt if but rather marinates in the dressing and the sweet potato and black beans become silky and super creamy but still dense and filling. Not to mention, the pepitas still bring the crunchy notes that are lost when the sweet potatoes soften. Great either way – a win, win!

Chipotle Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Salad with Cilantro Pepita Sauce

Servings: 2 large salads

Time: 30 minutes

Cilantro Pepita Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, stem ends chopped off
  • 1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds; I used raw)
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. water (or more, to thin sauce)
  • salt 

How-to:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend or process until completely smooth. Add water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency. 
  2. Taste and add salt. 

Chipotle Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped (I used purple kale)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 ounces of feta cheese 
  • 2-3 tbsp. pepitas 
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • cooking oil
  • salt

How-to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place cubed sweet potato on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Add some cooking oil and salt and toss. Spread out sweet potato on the pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  3. After sweet potatoes have cooked for 15 minutes, pull from the oven and flip cubes over to sear another side. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until browned and crisp. 
  4. Dice the onion and place in a sauté pan, over medium heat with some cooking oil. Cook until onion becomes golden and soft, 5 minutes or so. 
  5. Mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves and add to the onion. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. 
  6. Add chipotle powder and pepper to the onions and garlic. Stir to distribute. 
  7. Add black beans to the onions and garlic and stir to mix everything evenly. Change heat to medium-low, cover, and allow beans to heat through while the sweet potatoes finish cooking. 
  8. To assemble the salad, massage the chopped kale for 2 minutes until it becomes less stiff. Divide kale between bowls. Top each with equal portions of sweet potatoes and chipotle black beans, right from the oven and stove top. Top with feta, pepitas, and cilantro pepita sauce. Serve with additional limes on the side, if desired. 

Notes:

  • I used the pepitas raw in the sauce and salad, but feel free to toast them to make it more nutty in flavor if you like. 
  • Serving this warm is delightful and how I originally created it, but I have to say leftovers are also great. The kale marinates in the sauce and does not wilt. While the crispy sweet potatoes loose their crispness, all the flavor and creaminess they bring remains. Plus the pepitas add the crunch that otherwise is lessened when having it as leftovers.

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