This Winter Take on the Classic Caesar Salad May Give Your Immune System a Boost

Tatiana Boncompagni

Well+Good’s recipe writer Tatiana Boncompagni is a wellness reporter, group fitness instructor, and mom of three based in New York. She’s also the co-founder of Sculptologie. She believes that truly good food nourishes both the body and the soul, and that healthy food should be easy to make and even easier to enjoy. 

This time of year, I love making sugar cookies with my kids and sipping on a piping mug of cocoa. Of course if all I ate were treats from now until New Year's, I wouldn't exactly feel great—or have enough energy to power through my workouts. That's why right now, I'm striving for a little something called balance.

Cooking big batches of healthy meals ahead of time ensures I have something nourishing to nosh on.

Cooking big batches of healthy meals ahead of time ensures I have something nourishing to nosh on when I might otherwise be tempted to nibble my way through a wheel of brie while wrapping presents and getting caught up on The Mindy Project. More often than not, I end up whipping up one of my tried-and-true recipes: a wintery kale chicken salad.

Tossed with roasted Brussels sprouts, white beans, and sweet potatoes, it's loaded with the right mix of macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbohydrates—to keep me satisfied and happy. I think of it as a healthier version of a classic chicken Caesar, with a garlicky Tahini-based dressing to add a delicious creaminess.  There's also plenty of vitamins A, B6, and C to bolster your immune system and keep you from getting sick and missing out on all the holiday fun, plus lots of fiber and roughage to keep your blood sugar regulated and digestion moving.

Flavor-wise, it's all about balancing the yin and yang: the sweetness of the roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts plays off of the savory, garlicky chicken and slightly bitter greens. You can skip the pomegranate arils if you want, but I find they add a pleasing crunch and just a hint of fruity freshness that bring all the recipe components together.

Want to try it for yourself? Keep reading for the recipe.

Chicken Kale Salad
Tatiana Boncompagni

Winter kale chicken salad with garlic tahini dressing

Serves 4

To make the chicken
1 large Ziploc plastic bag
8 organic, skinless chicken thighs or 4 small breasts
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

To make the salad
2 sweet potatoes
2 pints Brussels sprouts, washed and cut in half
1 can white Canellini beans
2 bunches of organic Lacinto kale, washed and destemmed
1/2 cup Tahini, divided
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, divided
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 pomegranate (optional)

1. In a large Ziploc baggie combine the chicken, half of the chopped garlic, rosemary (reserve a half tablespoon for white beans), and one tablespoon of olive oil. Marinate for at least three hours.

2. Heat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and lightly browned, about thirty minutes. Remove from oven, set aside.

3. Rinse white beans in water in a colander. In a small bowl, combine the beans with the remaining garlic and a half tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. Set aside.

4. Bake the sweet potatoes until they are soft, about thirty to forty minutes.

5. On another baking sheet, coated with a half tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, arrange the Brussels sprout halves. Roast until they are soft and lightly browned, about twenty minutes. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

6. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix the Tahini, the rest of the sesame oil, and vinegar until fully combined.

7. In a bowl, massage one tablespoon of dressing with one-fourth of the kale. On a plate, assemble the salad: Arrange kale, half of a sweet potato, one-fourth of the can of beans, one-fourth of the Brussels sprouts, two chicken thighs or one breast, and drizzle with another tablespoon of the dressing. Top with pomegranate arils if desired.

8. Keep dressing and the rest of the salad refrigerated in glass containers up to three days.

If you're still stuck in a salad rut, see how these wellness influencers shake up their go-to leafy greens recipe. And if you're wondering what type of lettuce is best, this guide will help.

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