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Steel Cut Oat Kale Sweet Potato Salad

Steel Cut Oat Kale Sweet Potato Salad

Last week, I wanted to make a wintery grain salad. I love my grain salads, especially in the colder months when I still want a bowl of veggies, but something a little heartier than your average lettuce bowl.   I’ve made my fair share of wheat berry, spelt berry, barley, and even rice salads. All delicious. My last warm salad creation used pot barley, so I knew this time I wanted something different.

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

Wheat berries! I hadn’t had them in a while. Perfect! And I always have them in my cupboard…


Went to the cupboard…. no wheat berries. I really didn’t want to use rice, for I still had a large container in my fridge from a recent meal prep. And using barley twice in a row just felt boring. So what other grain did I have kicking around….?

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

And that’s how it happened.

I’ve been a long time lover of steel cut oats – much preferring them over their rolled cousins for my warm breakfast bowls. Steel cut oats are simply whole oat groats that have been chopped into pieces.  “Groats” are the hulled kernel of a cereal or pseudo cereal grain which includes the germ, bran and endosperm portions. This is the most unprocessed and intact form of the grain – having only the most inedible outer hull removed – and thus retains the most fibre.

Maybe you’ve heard of a few others.

Buckwheat groats? Kasha.

Durum wheat groats? Bulgar.

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

Due to having these additional protective layers, groats do take longer to cook then more processed grains. However, they create the most wonderful chewy, dense texture when cooked. At least, if you are a thick and chewy porridge girl like me (none of this watery stuff), the wait is sooooo worth it.

But, even through all my years of steel cut love, I never in my dreams thought to use them in a salad. Oats are just breakfast food. That’s how we know them. So that’s where they stay.

But why not!? Oats are just another grain – like barley or rice or millet or wheat berries. And I know those all rock in savory salads.

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

So I went for it. I cooked up some of my beloved steel cut oats, pretending they were just like any other grain, plopped them in with a selection of my favorite salad ingredients, tossed everything in a simple vinaigrette and…

DANG. This turned out AMAZING. Like I said, I lovvvve chewy, and so using steel cut oats made for a salad with the most exciting array of textures I have ever had.  Cooking them up in broth rather than water and mixing them with savory herbs somehow made each chewy kernel pop in a brand new way.

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

This salad is so unique. Its chewy, crunchy, sweet, salty and savory…all in one. Every bite is an explosion of textures and tastes. I literally found myself saying, “Mmmmm!” and “What!?” and “Oh man!” with every spoonful.

So if you are getting tired of using the same grains over and over for your lunch or dinners, or maybe you just find yourself out of your usual stock like me, go make this salad!! Bring some breakfast love to the dinner table. You won’t regret it.

If using certified gluten free oats, it is completely gluten free and can be vegan if you omit the cheese (but I must say this took it to a whole other level)

Most of all, its delicious. Make it for yourself to have for lunches all week long, or make it for a gathering and impress all your friends with your unique and resourceful kitchen skills.

Salad on my friends!

steel cut oat kale sweet potato salad

Winter Steel Cut Oat Kale Sweet Potato Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup steel cut oats
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, finely chopped or grated
2 cups green kale, torn
1 15 oz can red kidney, beans, drained and rinsed*
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)**
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (use dried if you must)
1/2 cup cashews or hazelnuts, chopped (optional)

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp black pepper
few pinches of salt, to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add steel cut oats and cook, stirring often, until toasted (about 3 minutes). Add chopped onion and cook 3 minutes more, until softened. Add broth, bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer (covered) for 35 minutes. You want the oats to be tender but still chewy. Drain liquid and set aside to cool.

While your oats are cooking, steam (or roast, if you prefer) cubed sweet potato until tender.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast nuts – if using – shaking the pan occasionally (about 3 minutes)

In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Adjust to taste.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sweet potato, carrots, kale, beans, cranberries, feta and thyme.

Toss dressing over oat mixture and stir well to combine.

*These are what I used, but I would suspect chickpeas or even black beans would also be nice
** I would suspect goat cheese would also be wonderful. Let me know if you give it a try!

Steel Cut Oats aren't just for breakfast! Make this oat, kale sweet potato salad for a delicious and filling meatless meal. Click To Tweet



  1. Kate Bennett | 8th Dec 15

    What a neat idea to use steel cut oats!! This looks so yummy. I love the addition of kidney beans and I rarely omit cheese. Ever.

    • mylittletablespoon | 12th Dec 15

      ‘Omit’ and ‘cheese’ should not be in the same phrase. Unless its a new type I have yet to try.

  2. Beauty in Christ (@Emily11949309) | 8th Dec 15

    This looks really good!!! <3 It's one of the best well-rounded salads I've seen. Now to get some kale. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. cookiesnchem | 8th Dec 15

    Mmmmm this is one of the most delicious-looking superfood bowls I’ve ever seen! The ingredients here are all so wonderful. I’m sure this dish is FABULOUS!

  4. hungryforbalance | 8th Dec 15

    Every.Single.Thing. in this salad sounds delicious! I found myself saying, ‘Mmmm’ while I was reading it!! I love the sweet potato/kale/cranberry/feta combo!!!

  5. sweatyandfit | 8th Dec 15

    I am so intrigued by this oat salad! words i never thought i would say! and i agree, barley also is a delicious addition

    • mylittletablespoon | 12th Dec 15

      I love being a source of intrigue! I was too, and then was just plain happy.

  6. sprint2thetable | 9th Dec 15

    Good call on the oats! I made savory oats once and every was judging. Whatever… they’re good!

    • mylittletablespoon | 12th Dec 15

      Actually, I’m pretty sure I remembered you toying around with savory oats and definitely thought of it as I made this. Absolutely no judgment here!!

  7. elle | 9th Dec 15

    I have some kale growing in the garden right now, and an endless supply of sweet potatoes. This would be amazing!

    • mylittletablespoon | 12th Dec 15

      JEALOUS!!! Oh man, I long for the day I can have my own garden for all my fresh produce. Enjoy it!!

  8. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 12th Dec 15

    This salad is gorgeous. I love the colors and flavor profile and am digging the idea of oats. I do not mix up my grains enough and I absolutely should. Also, the feta isn’t optional. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 12th Dec 15

    P.S. You need to add a Pinterest button to your posts and pictures so I can pin this beautiful creation.

    • mylittletablespoon | 12th Dec 15

      Coming from you and your ability to make any dish look gorgeous, I am very flattered! I guess I should be looking at jumping on this pinterest train.. thank you for the reminder!

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  13. Jessica | 23rd Oct 17

    I made this over the weekend, and it’s the best thing I’ve eaten in a long, long time!

    I used whole oat groats and just increased the simmering time until they were suitably tender. This recipe is going into regular rotation at our house!

    • Cora | 25th Oct 17

      Yayyyy!!! This just made my day. I’m so glad you liked it!!

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