This Winter Salad with Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and Pear is the ultimate meal-worthy salad for the chillier months! It’s as comforting as a salad can be, filled with sweet potatoes roasted in bacon fat and rosemary, hearty kale, arugula, pears, bacon, and a white balsamic maple mustard vinaigrette!
Over here it’s been all about pasta and cocktails lately (and a whole lot of Christmas cookies), but I’m bringing you this cozy holiday salad today! If I’m even allowed to call salad cozy? If there is such a thing, this is totally it. We’ve got sweet potatoes roasted in bacon fat and rosemary (which I teased on Instagram last week!), crispy bacon, a base of peppery arugula and hearty kale, pears, and the most delish maple mustard vinaigrette!
With all of the deliciously rich holiday food, I always enjoy having some kind of salad alongside. While this one is hearty enough to stand on it’s own, it also makes a great accompaniment to any wintery meal. The flavors are super crowd pleasing and it can be made ahead of time since it’s so hearty!
All of the components are so rich and flavorful, there’s not even a need for cheese. Yep, I said it. This salad doesn’t even need it! That being said, you can 1000% add it if you want to!
In order to make this even more of a meal, it would be great with some roasted or pan seared chicken! A garlic rosemary marinade or even a balsamic marinade would work wonderfully with all of the flavors of this winter salad.
Let’s talk about these sweet potatoes though. Instead of roasting them in olive oil, I roast them in the rendered bacon fat! It’s incredibly fantastic and I have no idea why I didn’t think of it sooner. They soak up just a little bit of that rich, salty, smoky flavor, and it pairs pretty perfectly with their natural sweetness.
I love throwing fresh rosemary on the pan to roast with the potatoes in addition to the chopped rosemary, because the aromas just infuse even more! And we’re all about flavor here.
And I almost forgot! They also get a little sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg to add to the holiday-ness of this salad. I have a hard time roasting sweet potatoes without them!
I enjoy using pears in this winter salad because I think they work really well with all of the flavors, but apples would be great too! Sometimes it’s hard to find really good, ripe pears, so my next choice is to use honeycrisp apples here!
And this maple mustard vinaigrette! It’s insanely good, perfectly sweet, savory, mustard-y, and good on just about any winter salad. I’ve been making it all month and I can’t get enough of it!
This is what you need:
- white balsamic vinegar (I like using white as opposed to dark/aged balsamic because it’s a little lighter and less sweet – which this salad needs. Dark balsamic is almost too rich here with all of the other components!)
- stone ground mustard (Dijon works great here too, I often switch it up depending on my mood or what I have on hand!)
- maple syrup (Use the pure, really good stuff here. It makes all the difference.)
- shallots (I add them to nearly every vinaigrette I make. Love that little oniony bite!)
- garlic (Self-explanatory, right?!)
- really good quality extra virgin olive oil (You want to use the best quality stuff you can, especially in dressings.)
- salt + pepper
The dressing keeps really well in the fridge for up to 1 week, and this recipe makes more than you need for this salad. So that just means more homemade dressing for salads during the week!
If you’re making this ahead of time to serve or bring to holiday party, this is how I’d do it:
- make the dressing up to a few days ahead of time
- clean, de-stem, and chop your kale the day before and keep it in a sealed bag with paper towels to absorb any moisture
- the day of, cook your bacon and roast your sweet potatoes
- right before serving, slice your pear, massage your kale, and assemble!
This salad can also sit for an hour or so assembled, since it’s so hearty. You really can’t mess it up, and the flavors just get better and better!
Don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram and tag me @spicesinmydna if you make this recipe! Nothing makes me happier than seeing what you create in the kitchen. I especially love being a part of your holiday celebrations!
Winter Salad with Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and Pear
This Winter Salad with Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and Pear is the ultimate meal-worthy salad for the chillier months! It's as comforting as a salad can be, filled with sweet potatoes roasted in bacon fat and rosemary, hearty kale, arugula, pears, bacon, and a white balsamic maple mustard vinaigrette!
For the salad
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 medium bunch Tuscan kale, de-stemmed and shredded
- 5-6 cups baby arugula
- 1 D'Anjou pear, thinly sliced
For the bacon-rosemary roasted sweet potatoes
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1/2'' cubes
- 2-3 teaspoons bacon fat*
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus extra sprigs for roasting
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
For the maple mustard vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon stone ground or dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Begin by cooking the bacon. Add bacon to a skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook bacon for 8-10 minutes, flipping as needed, until golden brown and crispy. Reserve the bacon fat in a small heat-safe bowl to use for the sweet potatoes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and chop once cool enough to handle.
Make the sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the sweet potatoes, 2-3 teaspoons of bacon fat, chopped rosemary, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg and toss until evenly coated. Add a couple of rosemary sprigs on top and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown. Discard the rosemary sprigs.
Make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, whisk togther the balsamic vinegar, shallot, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of the vinaigrette. Season with a couple pinches of salt and freshly cracked black pepper and massage the kale with your hands for a couple minutes, until it has softened and decreased in volume. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Add the chopped bacon, roasted sweet potatoes, and pear, and season the salad with salt and pepper once more. Drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette and toss. Serve!
*Don't forget to save your bacon fat for the sweet potatoes - I usually put a heat-safe ramekin or bowl next to the stovetop to remind me to pour it in there after frying up the bacon!