With it’s spicy honey lime dressing, this healthy, hearty salad is perfect for a vegetarian meal, or as a wonderful side to grilled chicken, shrimp or steak.
Every year around this time, I find my mind spinning with new salad ideas. I guess it’s seeing all the unique fall produce beautifully displayed (and priced!) at the market, that gets me inspired. This past week, it was a huge mound of plump, gnarly sweet potatoes that caught my attention. I filled up a bag and quickly picked up a few other ingredients, anxious to get home and start creating lunch. Visions for a sweet potato salad were swirling in my brain.
I have to admit, roasting is one of my favorite techniques with vegetables. It brings out their sweet, natural sugars. I decided to try something different this time however. I simply peeled and diced the sweet potatoes and pulled out a large sauté pan. Butter, oil, honey and coriander went in along with the diced veggies. In minutes, I had a pan full of Caramelized Sweet Potatoes. That’s less time than it would have taken to preheat the oven!
Although these beautiful golden veggies make a fabulous side, it was a fall-inspired sweet potato salad I was craving. So, I pulled out cans of black beans and chipotle peppers from the pantry as well as ingredients for the the dressing. I’d purchased cilantro and pomegranate at the market and had a container of cooked quinoa in the fridge. It didn’t take me long to throw together a delicious lunch.
I find preparing healthy meals is easier if I do a bit of prep work. Early in the week, I’d made a big pot of quinoa and stashed it in the fridge for lunches and dinners on the go. It was perfect for this sweet potato salad inspiration. If you think quinoa is too soggy or bitter, check out this post on How to Make Perfect Quinoa. I think you just might change your mind!
I love the flexibility of this salad. First of all, swapping another grain for the quinoa works well. Farro, pearl barley or wild rice would be wonderful. If you can’t find pretty pomegranates, the salad would be equally delicious with dried cranberries or golden raisins. Choose the prettiest greens you can find. Arugula, baby spinach, maché and baby kale would all work well. I used a combination of pepitas and sunflower seeds as a topping. Feel free to use either one, both or another favorite seed. Finally, if you’re not into spicy foods, just decrease or eliminate the chipotle pepper.
What are chipotle peppers? Well, besides being associated with a famous restaurant chain here in the U.S., they’re a delicious ingredient you’ll find in the ethnic aisle of most larger grocery stores. A chipotle pepper is simply a jalapeño pepper that’s been smoked and dried. Because working with dried peppers is a bit more labor intensive, I love to purchase them in cans, already hydrated and prepared. I like to keep a can of these peppers stashed away in the pantry, as they’re so versatile. The adobo sauce? It’s a delicious blend of tomatoes, vinegar and spices and keeps the peppers soft and hydrated.
If you look up easy-peasy in the dictionary, you just might see a picture of this salad dressing because that’s exactly what it is. Throw everything in a jar and shake, shake, shake! See what I mean – crazy easy!
If it seems like I your culinary life is getting boring, no worries! Invite some friends and celebrate fall in a delicious, healthy way with this Black Bean Sweet Potato Salad!
For your Pinning pleasure…
LOTS OF PEOPLE ASK WHAT KIND OF COOKWARE, SMALL APPLIANCES, CUTLERY, ETC. I USE IN THE KITCHEN. HERE’S WHAT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.
- For the dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotle in adobo*
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- For the salad:
- 1 recipe Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa** I use this recipe
- 1 14 1/2- ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- ½ cup cilantro (if you don't like cilantro, use parsley)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 cups arugula
- ½ cup pomegranate arils or seeds
- ½ cup salted roasted sunflower seeds, pepitas or a combination
- For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Set aside.
- For the salad, combine quinoa, black beans, cilantro and 1/4 cup of the dressing in a medium-large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and arugula. Toss gently and divide between four dinner size plates or large, shallow bowls. Garnish with pomegranates and seeds.
*Chipotle in adobo can be found in most larger grocery stores in the Mexican section. It comes in a small can the same size as the small cans of mushrooms. You can also purchase Chipotle in Adobo online. You don't need much to add a delicious smokey spiciness to recipes. After I open a can, I transfer what I don't use, to a small jar and keep it in the refridge. It will last for several weeks.
** I never like quinoa (thought it was bitter and soggy) until I learned to make it the right way. I was so happy to discover that I loved it, if it was cooked correctly, that I did a whole tutorial post on How to Make Perfect Quinoa. This recipe will make more than you need for this salad but it's great to have extra quinoa stashed away in the fridge. It will make any salad heartier and more nutritious. It's also great in soups and as a side.