I cannot remember when I first started making this dish years ago. It evolved out of knowing my husband liked sweet potatoes and caramelized onions. The hope was the sweetness of the potatoes and the sauce would be a foil for the slight bitterness of the kale, which I was trying to get him to eat more. You know what, this has continued to be one of his most requested lunches. Often, we make up a large portion at dinner, and then he can continue eating leftovers for a few days.
A number of years back, when we were coming home for Christmas. I knew my mom was finishing up her last day with students (as a public-school teacher) and was not going to want to think about cooking dinner for her new house guests, so I offered to make dinner. I knew this recipe was different from anything they traditionally ate, but by that point, I knew it could win over the pickiest eaters to kale. My mom liked it so much, she requested the recipe, and though they are meat eaters, ask about what veggie-based sausage to purchase so they could try and recreating it again once I was gone (for those meat eaters reading this you could use a chicken sausage). So here I am sharing this beloved recipe with you. Other than the time it takes to caramelize onions, this can be an easy weeknight meal. To help make the onions, I often start them as I’m cleaning up the kitchen the night before I’m going to make it or make them up on a weekend afternoon.
Sweet Potato Kale Bowl with Caramelized Onion Aioli and Sausage
For the Bowl
2.5 lb (about 3 large) Sweet Potatoes (washed and cut into ½” cubes)
½ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Onion Powder
4 Links of Sausage (My Homemade, Beyond, Field Roast, etc.)
½ a Large Sweet White Onion (cut into slivers)
1 to 1 1/2 large Bunch of Kale*
2 Cloves of Garlic
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds of Walnuts
Oil for cooking
Optional: Additional Caramelized onions (for topping) (See Recipe Below)
½ c Mayo (Just Mayo, Follow Your Heart Avocado Oil, etc.)
1 T Maple Syrup
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ Onion Powder
1/3 c Caramelized Onions (See Recipe Below)
*For the Kale - depending on number of stems per bunch – I like 3-4 per person. If reheating, I wait to cook the additional kale to the day of.
Heat the oven to 375 F.
In a large mixing bowl toss the sweet potato cubes, 2 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoons garlic powder, ½ teaspoons onion powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread on a large greased sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes. Flip. Bump up the oven to 400F and return to the oven for an additional 15-25 minutes, or until starting to brown.
While the potatoes cook you can make the aioli in a small blender or food processor combine the 1/3 c caramelized onions, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ½ cup mayo, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon onion powder. Pulse a few times until the onions are almost smooth. (If you do not have a food processor or blender, finely mince the caramelized onion and stir the ingredients in a small bowl.) Set aside.
De-stem the kale and discard the thick stems. Tear the leaves into 2” pieces. Rinse and shake off half the water (you want some of the water to remain so help steam the kale).
Once the potatoes are with 5-8 minutes of being done, heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the ½ a sweet onion (if using) with a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Add in the kale to the onions, give a quick stir, and cover with a lid to trap the steam. Allow to cook for a minute. Then remove the lid and stir. If you like kale wilted and soft go on cooking for another few minutes, otherwise if you like it to still have a little texture (like I do) push the kale to the side, add in a drizzle of oil, and add the 2 tablespoons minced garlic into the oil. Turn off the heat and stir the garlic around in the oil for a minute to cook away any rawness. Then stir the garlic into the kale.
Combine the sweet potatoes and the kale. Salt and pepper to taste. Scoop into serving bowls, top with a generous drizzle of the aioli, additional caramelized onions (if desired), and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Caramelizing onion is an easy way to break down a lot of onions into a sweet creamy texture that can be added to dishes, dressing, burgers, or sauces. The onions already contain enough natural sugars, so there is no need to add extra sugar in order to make them caramelized. All you need are onions and a little time to coax those sugars out of the onions until they take one a rich caramel like flavor.
2 Onions (about 600g)
1 T Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt
*You can caramelize more than 2 onions at once, but you will need a larger/wider pan. If the onions are crowded, they will just boil and not caramelize. The caramelization process happens as the moisture is allowed to evaporate.
1. In a large heavy sauté pan or skillet (you want a wide pan with low sides) over medium high with the 1 tablespoon of oil.
2. Once hot add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stir cooking for 4-5 minutes, until starting to soften.
3. Then turn down to temperature to low and cover. Cook for 35-40 minuets. Stir occasionally to encourage even coloring and reduce sticking or burning. If they start to dry out on you, you can add in a drizzle of water to help de-glaze the bottom of the pot.