High-protein Kale & Sweet Potato Wild Rice Bowl is loaded with iron and fiber. 15-minutes to make, vegan, and budget-friendly.
This quick and easy salad is a satisfying lunch or dinner. The skillet-cooked caramelized sweet potatoes and garlicky kale pair deliciously with the Maple-Dijon Dressing.
This was inspired by my Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad with Tahini Dressing on this site, as well as this High-Protein Refried Bean Veggie Bowl.
See recipe card for quantities.
👩🏽⚕️ Nutrition & Cooking Tips
- Wild rice is not actually rice, but instead a grass seed. Think of it as a close cousin to rice. It contains twice as much protein as brown rice. Plus, it's loaded with fiber, potassium, and iron as well as several other essential nutrients. It has a satisfying, chewy texture and a nutty flavor.
The downsides are it takes longer to cook, and is more expensive than brown or white rice. To get around this, I purchased a wild rice blend also consisting of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, and black rice. Most blends cook in about 20 minutes.
You can make this recipe with purely wild rice. Substitute the wild rice blend with the same quantity of wild rice and cook according the the directions on the packet. To reduce the cooking time, which is typically about 45 minutes, soak it for 2 to 3 hours beforehand, or use a pressure cooker. Soaking reduces the cooking time by about 50 percent.
- Sweet potatoes have more fiber and a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. Caramelizing them in a skillet with vegan butter (or olive oil) and maple syrup reduces the cooking time to about 10 minutes. This cooking method also enhances their natural sweetness.
- Hemp Hearts are seeds from the hemp plant. They are high in protein and omega 3s. Plus, they contain the 9 essential amino acids. I use them often to pack in a nutritional punch to salads, veggie bowls, oatmeal, roasted veggies, and pasta.
They can be a bit pricey, so feel free to substitute with other nuts or seeds, or omit them.
Cook the rice according to the directions on the packet. Set aside.
Meanwhile, sauté the kale with the garlic.
Washing the kale beforehand typically adds enough water to cook the kale. However, if the leaves are dry and the kale is not wilting, add a little water and cover to steam. Transfer the kale to a bowl or dish.
Use the same skillet to caramelize the sweet potatoes. This is my favorite method for cooking them. Vegan butter adds a scrumptious flavor, whereas olive oil is a healthier alternative.
Heat the vegan butter or olive oil. Cook the sweet potato for 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup with water.
Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until golden brown and just fork tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl.
This dish tastes amazing served warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It's a great recipe for meal prepping.
🥬 Substitutions & Variations
- Wild rice blend - use brown rice, white rice, red rice, or black rice instead
- Kale - use spinach, lacinato kale, or green cabbage instead
- Sweet potato - substitute with butternut squash
- Pepitas - the pepitas can be replaced with sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, or omitted
- Hemp hearts - omit as desired
- Dried fruit – add dried cranberries, tart cherries, or raisins
Quinoa salads are a great alternative to rice. See this Protein-Packed Quinoa & Kale Salad on my website!
It's best to use a nonstick skillet for caramelizing the sweet potatoes. Otherwise, you will need to use more oil to prevent them from sticking.
Invest is a good quality nonstick skillet made with nontoxic materials (APOE and PFOA-free). I use the Ozeri brand and get great results. Their pans are made with a stone-derived nonstick coating. Cast iron skillets are also a good choice. Plus, they have the added benefit of adding a bit of iron to the dish!
Refrigerate any remaining Kale & Sweet Potato Wild Rice Salad for up to 4 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature. If you decide to reheat this dish, use a nonstick skillet.
This salad does not stand up well to freezing.
💡 Top tip
For best results, let the sweet potato cook for a few minutes before stirring. Stir intermittently. This way they will brown more quickly.
Cook the wild rice in bulk and freeze any excess for later use.
You can roast the sweet potato instead of sautéing. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the sweet potato chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just fork tender.
Use your hands or a knife to strip the leaves from the bottom of the stem through the top. Tear the leaves into about 1-inch pieces using your hands, or roll a bunch of them up and slice with a knife. Place the chopped kale in a bowl of cold water. Stir to remove the dirt. Use a colander to drain the kale. Rinse again under cold water.
Microwave until warmed through. Or reheat in a nonstick skillet. Add some vegetable broth if the rice is dry.
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For more delicious Veggie Bowl recipes, check out my Veggie Bowl page.
Kale & Sweet Potato Wild Rice Bowl
- ¾ cup dry wild rice blend or 2 cups cooked
- Generous drizzle of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 5 stems curly kale washed, de-stemmed, leaves roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter plus 1 teaspoon olive oil (or 1 tablespoon olive oil)*
- 1 medium sweet potato cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
- ¼ cup pepitas raw or roasted
- 3 tablespoons hemp hearts or chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios
For the Garlicky Maple-Dijon Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large garlic clove
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the rice according to packet directions.
- Cook the kale: Add a generous drizzle of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and cook for about 3 minutes more, or until the kale is just wilted, stirring continuously. (The water on the leaves will steam the kale while cooking.) Transfer the kale to a dish. Set aside.
- Cook the sweet potato: Add the vegan butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to sizzle, add the sweet potato. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the dissolved maple syrup and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until just fork tender, stirring frequently.
- Make the dressing: Meanwhile, add the extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon to a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Grate the garlic into the container using a microplane or fine grater. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the container and shake until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Combine: To a large bowl, add the cooked rice, kale, sweet potato, dressing, pepitas, and hemp seeds. Mix gently until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve warm or refrigerate for a chilled salad.
- Wild rice– brown, black, red, or white rice
- Hemp hearts and/or pumpkin seeds –your choice of chopped nuts or seeds
- Vegan butter adds a delicious flavor to the sweet potato, but feel free to substitute with olive oil. Either use 1 tablespoon vegan butter plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, or just 1 tablespoon olive oil.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.
Wonderful flavors enjoyed by all.
Awww so glad. Thanks for letting me know.
This was delicious! There’s great depth of flavor - I loved the garlic in the kale - and the crunch of the pepitas and the tangy/sweet dressing pull it together nicely at the end. I was trying to replicate the delicious vegan bowls at a local restaurant and this recipe nailed it. Thank you!
So glad t was a hit! Thank you for commenting. Have a great week.
Would this recipe freeze well?
Hi. You could freeze it for up to one month, I believe. Thaw in the refrigerator and microwave to reheat.
This is an amazing dish!
I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you for commenting.