What Is a Baked Salad? Plus Tips for How to Make Your Own

Salads with baked vegetables are all the rage—especially this super healthy one with cabbage and kale

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas—which is why the concept of the baked salad has become a go-to recipe. It’s healthy, vegetarian, and a warm and cozy one-dish dinner for the colder months.

“Baked salads are in, especially in the fall and winter,” according to Justine Doiron of Justine Snacks (the inventor of the butter board!) who kick-started the trend in October. “It’s like fall and winter vegetables are begging to be baked.”

What Is a Baked Salad?

In very simple terms, a baked salad is a salad where everything is baked. It’s a buzzy name for roasted vegetable salad and is perfect for colder months. In this case, the leafy vegetables are roasted cabbage and cooked kale. The toasted quinoa on toast takes the place of croutons. Finally, a warm sweet-and-sour agrodolce dressing pulls it all together.

How to Make a Baked Salad

Baked Salad Overhead By Jason WilsonJason Wilson for Taste of Home

For this recipe, you’ll need to two sheet pans and one saucepan. You can definitely cook the quinoa ahead of time (or use leftover quinoa from the night before) so that all you have to do is toast it during salad preparation.

With kale, I prefer to remove the hard stems and use the leaves, but some like to add the stems. When making the agrodolce, I prefer to soak the raw red onions in 2 tablespoons of vinegar and let them sit for 20 minutes or so before adding the honey-water-vinegar mixture. Justine calls for avocado oil for roasting the cabbage and kale, but olive oil is just fine if that’s what you have on hand. I made my own chili oil by combining two tablespoons of crushed Calabrian chilies with a half-cup of olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, plus one tablespoon for raw onions
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 12 stalks lacinato kale
  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions

Step 1: Cook the quinoa and prep the red onions

Prepare quinoa per package instructions, or in a rice cooker with a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. Thinly slice the red onion and place it in a bowl, with a splash of vinegar to cover.

Step 2: Roast the cabbage and kale

Heat the oven to 450°F. Remove the core from the cabbage and the stems from the kale, and thinly slice both.

Spread the kale out evenly on one baking sheet and the cabbage on another. Drizzle both the kale and cabbage with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast the cabbage at 450°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden and slightly crisp. For the last 5-7 minutes of baking, add in the kale and roast until crisp. Remove both vegetables from the oven and combine into a bowl.

Step 3: Toast the quinoa

Turn the oven down to 375°F. Add the quinoa to a baking sheet and cover with chili oil. Season with salt to taste and toss. Roast this for 20 minutes, stirring part way through until the quinoa is toasted, slightly golden and lightly crisp.

Step 4: Make the agrodolce dressing

While the quinoa is baking, whisk together the honey and water. Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan or small pot on medium heat, then add in the sage leaves and the rosemary sprigs. Pour in the honey mixture, and stir until it thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and a pinch of salt, stirring. Let the mixture simmer slightly for 1-2 minutes. Remove the herbs and pour over the red onion-vinegar mixture. Stir to combine.

Step 5:  Toss the salad

Pour the agrodolce into the bowl with the kale and cabbage, and toss well. Sprinkle the quinoa over the top of the salad and serve warm.

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