Here's a hearty, greens-grains-Gruyère salad that will help you re-enter the rhythms of routine, slowly—it still has the ease and swiftness of your favorite low-maintenance summer recipes. (No need to turn on the oven and roast a whole pork shoulder just yet.)
The constituent parts—bulgur, kale, and roasted sweet potatoes, all coated in a brown butter apple vinaigrette—will keep well on their own, and the mixed salad will stay good for five days, meaning that you can follow the recipe start-to-finish or take it piecemeal, making bigger batches of any components you might also use in other meals.
In under an hour, you've set yourself up for two dinners (or quite a few lunches) and, if you've made extra sweet potatoes, bulgur, and vinaigrette, you've built a solid foundation for more meals to come. You'll feel as if you've just organized a 3-ring binder with plastic tab dividers—smart, organized, and ready to tackle a busy autumn like the meal-planning champ you are.
Pour the bulgur into a medium heat-proof bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring at least 2 cups of water to a boil in a kettle or small pot, then pour it over the bulgur. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain and fluff. Prepare the kale, then place the ribbons in a large bowl.
While the bulgur soaks, make the vinaigrette. In a medium-sized skillet, melt the butter. When it's just starting to color and smell fragrant, add the almonds, shallot, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until the shallots relax and the butter starts to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add half of the diced apples, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar, if using. Cook for about 45 seconds, until the apple has absorbed much of the liquid, but you still have a fair amount of liquid-y vinaigrette in the pan.
Pour the vinaigrette over the kale ribbons and stir gently so that the kale wilts under the heat of the dressing. Add the drained bulgur, the cubed sweet potato, and the remaining apple. Mix in the grated cheese, taste for salt and lemon, and eat!