Vibrant greens & roasted yam salad

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Netflix binges, long walks, coffee, and Emma by Jane Austen... pretty much sums up my winter break in SoCal. Oh, and the new Dietary Guidelines are out! I'll be posting a review of them soon (update, see this post for a review of what's new in the Dietary Guidelines). I've also been having a bit of fun in the kitchen with all this extra time on my hands. While at the grocery store picking up a few items for my family, I couldn't stay away from a package of beautiful mixed super greens. The rainbow chard was practically calling my name.

So, I got inspired. What could I add to these greens to highlight their natural flavor, texture, and nutritional profile? Considering we were in the middle of winter, I decided to stray towards the warm and hearty side and picked out some yams, cheese, nuts, and dried cranberries. Not only would the flavors be bomb.com, but the ingredients all together would provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with a bit of carbs, fat and protein to make it a great side dish, or even a solo dish for a lite meal.

To get started, I first washed and peeled 2 small yams, and peeled 2 cloves of garlic. I also set my oven temperature to 375 F.

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20160107_144327
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20160107_144820
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20160107_144449

I then minced the garlic and diced the yams into small cubes.

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20160107_150106

Next, I spread the diced yams and minced garlic out in a 9 x 13 in baking dish, drizzled with 2 TB olive oil, sprinkled with a dash of salt and pepper and made sure each little cube was coated evenly. I baked this mixture in my hot oven for about 30 minutes, until they were tender.

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20160107_152115

While the yams were roasting, I set out to make my own balsamic reduction. This ended up being a lot cheaper than buying a whole bottle of balsamic reduction, and I knew my family would be more likely to use the vinegar than the reduction later.

Balsamic reduction is fairly easy to make, but be warned, your kitchen will probably smell like vinegar for the rest of the night and the fumes make your eyes water a bit. I just turned on the fan above my stove and opened the window, which helped quite a bit. Anyways, all you have to do is pour 1 cup of vinegar in a nonstick pan, bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook the vinegar until it is reduced down to about 1/4 cup. Take it off the heat and pour it into a glass container to finish cooling and set it aside.

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20160107_144258

After I set my balsamic reduction aside to cool, I started to prepare the greens. Kale and chard to me are a little too rough when eaten without any manipulation, so I like to massage them with 1-2 tsp olive oil. This softens them up without losing that wonderful crunch. I placed the whole bag of greens in a bowl and massaged them with my hands for just a few minutes.

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20160107_153711

As soon as my yams were done, I took them out of the oven and put them straight onto the greens without letting them cool. This causes the greens to wilt just a bit, making them even more palatable without cooking them down to a pulp.

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20160107_154200
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20160107_154259

Finally, I tossed together the whole salad with 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. On top I drizzled the 1/4 cup balsamic reduction I had set aside earlier. Voila, warm crunchy goodness :)

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20160107_155735