Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette combines wild rice and fresh kale with apples, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and chevre tossed with a sweet-tart Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Kale and Wild Bowls Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

One thing my city’s really missing is a salad bar type place. No, not like Bonanza (however, I can’t tell you how obsessed I was with their chips and florescent-orange nacho cheese sauce as a kid!) rather, a fast-casual restaurant with loads of different lettuces and grains to choose from – kale, spinach, arugula, quinoa, etc. – and a buffet of toppings and dressings to really jazz things up. Oh, and someone to make it for you. Salads always taste better when they’re made by somebody else!

If a place like this existed near me I’d undoubtedly eat there a minimum of 3 times a week for lunch or dinner…and consequently go broke. #worthit

That being said, I was pumped when Ben’s mom pointed out a salad bar spot to hit up for lunch when we were out and about in DC a couple weeks ago called Sweetgreen. With several locations in and around the DC area, Sweetgreen sources local and organic ingredients, even posting which farms they’ve come from on chalkboards around the restaurant. How cool is that?

Kale and Wild Bowls Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

They’ve got tons of unique salad options on the menu, plus the opportunity to create your own blend, but my eye was caught by their Wild Rice Bowl – a special of the month.

Kale and Wild Bowls Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Warm wild rice is tossed with shredded kale, apples, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, chicken, goat cheese and your choice of dressing. It was freaking AMAZING. It came in a gigantic bowl and I ate every last morsel. As with many vacation meals that I enjoy, I couldn’t wait to get home and recreate.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Although I had to make it myself, I think I enjoyed the homemade version even more than the original! Maybe it’s because I really slathered on the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette, which is sweet, tart, and tangy. Sweetgreen gave me the option of going light, medium, or heavy on the dressing and I went with “medium”. A rookie mistake. I mean, the salad was obviously yummy enough to inspire me to make it at home but it was even better when I really slathered on the good stuff.

In addition to the dressing, this combo of ingredients makes you want to keep eating and eating wishing the bowl never ended. Crunchy, chewy, sweet, savory, warm, cold…I’m in love. This recipe makes two HUGE bowls too, so tell the salad hater in your life to stuff it – literally. They won’t be able to eat another drop after polishing off this bowl o’ deliciousness!

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Start by cooking 1 cup wild rice blend (Lundberg is my favorite!) in 2 cups chicken broth until just barely tender, about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat then let the rice steam with the lid on for an additional 10 minutes. This is my secret to perfect wild and brown rice! After steaming, remove the lid then let the rice cool down until it’s just warm.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Meanwhile, season 1 chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces with salt, pepper, and garlic powder then saute in a nonstick sprayed skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate then set aside.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Last thing to make is the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette – this is a riff on the Honey-Balsamic dipping sauce I pair with my California Quesadillas and it’s, as they say, totally legit. To a jar with a tight fitting lid add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 microplaned or minced garlic clove, salt and pepper then shake to combine. Dressing = done!

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Finally, get your kale ready. You’ll need 4 cups chopped kale which is about 3-4 big kale leaves. I used curly kale, because that’s what SweetGreen used, but you can use whatever you like!

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Just tear the leaves off the thick, woody stem then shred with a knife.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Make sure to rinse and spin after chopping. Curly kale is notorious for having dust and dirt stuck in the leaves, in my experience.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Ok, time to assemble. To a BIG bowl add the warm rice and chicken, along with 1/4 cup each sliced almonds and dried cranberries. I did this in two batches because I didn’t have a big enough bowl.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Next add 1 chopped apple and 2oz crumbled chevre. Be sure to leave the chevre crumbles kind of big so you get yummy cheese pockets within the bowls. Mmm…cheese pockets. Finally, add the chopped kale and vinaigrette. Now, normally you’d have to massage curly kale a bit to make it easier to eat, but the warm rice takes care of it for you, softening the kale just slightly.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Toss with tongs until everything is coated in the dressing then scoop into big, big bowls and dig in!

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Print this recipe!

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients:
1 cup wild rice blend
2 cups chicken broth
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt, pepper and garlic powder
4 cups chopped kale
1 apple, chopped
2oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds

For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, microplaned or finely minced
salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium-sized pot then add rice, place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until tender, 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat then let sit for 10 minutes to continue steaming, then fluff and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette in a jar or small bowl then shake or whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder then saute in a non-stick sprayed skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate then set aside.
  4. In a very large bowl combine warm rice, chicken, kale, apple, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Drizzle with vinaigrette then toss with tongs to evenly coat and then serve. May need to do this in two batches.

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

There’s that chevre pocket I was telling you about, which gets warm and creamy on the outside from the rice, but stays cold and intact in the center. INSANE!!

Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

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Comments

  1. This salad looks fabulous and has all of my favorites…well, kale isn’t my favorite yet, but this is one of the best ways I’ve seen it served and the home made dressing looks phenomenal.

    Can’t wait to whip this up for my family soon!

  2. Medeja 04.16.2014

    I love salad that has apple and chicken in it :D

  3. Jeanie 04.16.2014

    This looks fabulous! One question…it looks like you might have used a wild rice brown rice blend. Did you use a blend or is that straight wild rice?

    • Kristin 04.16.2014

      Good catch – I did use a blend and was going to mention it but totally forgot! I use Lundberg rice!

  4. Liz 04.16.2014

    Looks yummy! A few months ago a friend told me that they are opening up a salad bar restaurant in the new building going up by Jethros on University. Hopefully it is true:)

  5. I make something similar to this, but I love the vinaigrette you paired it with! These are like my go-to meals, protein, veggie, grain. Love it!

  6. Chicago Jogger 04.16.2014

    Ooh, this looks great. A perfect dish for a spring day! Pinning right away. Side note, I also loved Bonanza as a kid. For their bread/cinnamon rolls… memories.

  7. Kelly Mitchem 04.16.2014

    This looks so delicious and hearty, I have been trying to find a way lately to do a super veggie packed meal and this would be a good one!

  8. Sally 04.16.2014

    I live just outside of DC and am obsessed with Sweetgreen. If it wasn’t so expensive, I would eat there everyday for lunch. It’s the best! Can’t wait to make this at home :)

  9. Suzanne 04.16.2014

    I LOVE Sweetgreen! I first went to it when I was in DC too. Recently they have opened one or two in the Philadelphia area, but it’s not quite close enough to me to drive to for a salad I can make myself! :)
    I always add the avocado because they give you a half of one and I LOVE it!

  10. Julie 04.16.2014

    Check out Palmer’s Deli on Ingersoll or Big City Burgers & Greens downtown in the bottom of the Capital Square bldg.

  11. Becky 04.16.2014

    Bahahahahaha! Bonanza! My first job was at Bonanza’s rival, Ponderosa :)

    I’ve said the same the same things about salads…they are inexplicably better when someone else makes them!

  12. Sarah Feddersen 04.16.2014

    Big City Burgers and Greens downtown is awesome! Based on your photo above I would say the vibe is even the same!

  13. Oh my gosh this looks delicious! I think I might have to pick up something like this for lunch! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Brittany 04.16.2014

    I just need to say this is the best lookin’ bowl of goodness I have seen in a WHILE…THANK YOU. I will be eating this ta-now.

  15. Alexa 04.16.2014

    I love Sweet Green, and have been eying this bowl–you have me convinced now (and I’ll try to make my own).

    When we first moved to DC, I took my husband here, telling him it was like the Chipotle of salads. Weeeeeeell, he now refers to it as the overpriced bird food place that doesn’t even have real coke in the pop fountains (when he asked for a Diet Coke when we checked out, they said, “oh no, we don’t have Coke products here, only real cane sugar soda,” and he gave me a, “where have you taken me?!” look).

    So let’s just say, I go to Sweet Green during my alone time now only. =)

  16. Amy 04.16.2014

    Have you been to Big City Burgers and Greens in downtown Des Moines??? http://www.bigcityburgersandgreens.com/ I just absolutely LOVE their salads!!!!! You can build your own, with a TON of different toppings available…..or you can choose one of their signature salads. They use high quality ingredients and it is a really nice place to check out!! I would highly recommend!!!

    • Kristin 04.21.2014

      Someone else just recommended this to me – I’ll have to check it out!

  17. I love Sweetgreen and I LOVE their grain bowls. Can’t wait to make this!

    BTW–Made your black and blue salad with honey roasted pecans and blackberry dressing for dinner on Monday and I was in HEAVEN. Those pecans, oh my goodness!

  18. Tanah 04.16.2014

    This made my mouth water it looks amazing!!

  19. Theresa 04.16.2014

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this!

  20. Wow! Loving this flavor combo. The pictures are stunning :)

  21. Ah I love SweetGreen, and always enjoy trying their salad of the month! One of my favorites last year included peaches (maybe the August salad?), and I remember one in the fall with roasted squash! So yummy!

  22. Heather 04.16.2014

    I am lucky to live in walking distance from a Sweetgreen, in college there was always a line out the door at the one in Georgetown! Their dressings and fresh fruits are my fav. Can’t wait to try this very soon!!

  23. I ate at Chop’t when I was in DC last summer. LOVE that place. For two months after I returned home I was craving their salad and wishing like no other that we had them here in Des Moines. Sounds like the place you tried is similar and maybe even better with the local and organic options. I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think Chop’t offered the organic produce.

  24. Carrie 04.16.2014

    Big City Burgers and Greens downtown is awesome! Unfortunately, it’s only open for lunch during the week.

  25. Kale and wild rice is such a great pairing. I recently made a kale-wild rice and chickpea gratin (http://definitelynotmartha.blogspot.ca/2014/03/kale-wild-rice-chickpeas-cheese-yes.html ), and this looks like a beautiful, summery way to enjoy kale and wild rice together. Yum! So nice and bright and fresh looking!

  26. Alexandra Aimee 04.16.2014

    Ohmygosh! This looks so fresh and amazing!

    – Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

  27. Kristin- this looks so great! I love sweet green. I just moved home to my parents and have had the luxury of her cooking for me (haha) but I think I may make this for dinner tomorrow! thanks for posting

  28. Jim 04.16.2014

    If you get over to Iowa City… Ther’s a place like this downtown affiliated with the Java House.

    http://www.heirloomsaladco.com/

  29. Mary Ann 04.16.2014

    Sounds good! We have a new salad place that opened up here (Portland) recently that I really want to try!
    http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/eat-and-drink/eat-beat/articles/garden-bar-brings-diy-salads-to-the-pearl-february-2014

  30. Becky 04.16.2014

    My husband I are both trying to lose weight and he actually keeps asking for salad for dinner. Making this tonight!

  31. My mouth is literally watering looking at your pictures! I can’t wait to make this. I love all things kale and I can never say no to goat cheese!

  32. Kristin 04.16.2014

    Kristin – this looks delicious. How would you suggest storing it to bring for lunch to work? In parts and then combining them at lunch? Make it prior and then reheat it at lunch?

    • Amy 04.18.2014

      I made this last night and am having the leftovers for lunch today. The kale got slightly softer, but I think it tastes even better. I just ate it cole, and still delish!

    • Kristin 04.21.2014

      You could eat it cold, or zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm the rice up just a touch. :)

  33. Hailey 04.16.2014

    This looks AMAZING and I LOVE Sweet Greens. It’s my absolute favorite salad spot. I also love recreating things that I have out.

    Have you ever tried massaging your kale for a softer texture? I find it easier to digest and eat. I did a video for Wellness Today…as a fellow kale lover, I think you’d enjoy :)
    http://www.wellnesstoday.com/nutrition/how-to-massage-kale-video‎

    • Kristin 04.21.2014

      I have! The great thing about this salad is that the warm rice wilts it just a tiny bit so no massaging necessary!

  34. Keera 04.16.2014

    I in Perth, Western Australia and we don’t have a Sweetgreen here. Soooo if you wouldn’t mind taste testing and posting pictures of all the salads that would be great. Looks relish, can’t wait to try it out.

  35. Kelly 04.16.2014

    I love Sweetgreen but this at home version is great, thank you!

  36. April 04.16.2014

    I just made this salad, and it’s AMAZING! Thank you sooooo much for the recipe! <3

  37. NZ Muse 04.16.2014

    God that looks heavenly! I would so eat somewhere like that a lot. But the one chain I miss most about the US is Chipotle.

  38. I would have never thought of putting rice on salad! It looks like a perfect recreation of the original. Is it me or is tearing off kale leaves terriblly therapeutic?!

  39. ahhh this looks amazing!!! I’ve had a similar salad before and the textures are awesome!

  40. Michelle Moy 04.17.2014

    I made this last night for supper and it was fabulous!!!
    Thanks for a great, healthy recipe! :)

  41. Oh man, this looks right up my alley! As does that cool salad restaurant! :)

  42. cheri 04.17.2014

    This is my kind of salad, I love going out to eat and then recreating the same dish later, much fun.

  43. Natalie 04.17.2014

    I just made this for my boyfriend and I for dinner. Oh. My. God. Finger licking good! I tasted every step of the way and the flavors just kept layering on. Amazing! I want to make it again this weekend for my parents! Thanks for sharing this amazing find!!!

  44. […] RECIPES: Can I just say I can’t stop thinking about this Kale & Wild Rice bowl?! I plan to continue to batch cook with some diet/macro tweaking after the show so I have been […]

  45. Sara S. 04.20.2014

    I made this as our salad for Easter today (minus the chicken) and it was SO GOOD!!! I found the rice you used and loved it. The only thing I may change next time is add slivered almonds in lieu of sliced, for more of a crunch. I can’t thank you enough for all your awesome recipes. I can’t even count how many we’ve made and have loved them all. I can always count on you!

  46. […] with Blueberry Butter – Averie Cooks Carrot Cake Loaf – Lexi’s Clean Kitchen Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette – Iowa Girl Eats 5 Ingredient Inside-Out Peanut Butter Cups – Edible Perspective […]

  47. Claire 04.23.2014

    Just made this for dinner. Didn’t change a thing and it was soo good! My husband kept repeating how good it was, too, so it was a hit with everyone!

  48. Emily 04.25.2014

    OH my goodness..I have made many of your recipes and have loved them all, but this one is not only my favorite of yours, but could possibly be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Made it for a friend who just had a baby, but saved enough for me to have a bowl and I’m so glad I did!! Thanks so much!!

  49. Nancy 04.27.2014

    Yummy! Loved this salad and it’s definitely a keeper!

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