With a delicious honey-lime dressing, this healthy, hearty salad is a perfect side for chicken, shrimp, pork, steak, etc. It also makes a fabulous (and beautiful) vegetarian meal.
Every year around this time, I find my mind spinning with new salad ideas. There's always such great inspiration with all the gorgeous fall produce beautifully displayed at the market. Recently, it was the plump, gnarly sweet potatoes that caught my attention. I filled up a bag and quickly picked up a few other ingredients, visions for a sweet potato quinoa salad were swirling in my brain.
Roasting is one of my favorite techniques with vegetables. It brings out their sweet, natural sugars. But this time, I decided to try something. I 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 dressing. I already had cilantro and pomegranate and I just happened to have cooked quinoa in the fridge. It didn't take me long to throw together a delicious lunch.
A healthy diet takes a bit of prep work
I find preparing healthy meals is easier if I do a bit of prep work. Early in the week, make a big pot of quinoa and stash it in the fridge for lunches and dinners on the go. It's 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!
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 chipotle peppers in cans, already hydrated and prepared. I always 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" 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!
So if you want to stay healthy, despite all the holiday indulgences, ad this Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad to your menu rotation. It's so delicious, you won't miss a thing!
Café Tips for making this Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
- I love the flexibility of this salad. First of all, swapping another grain for the quinoa works well. Farro, pearl barley or wild rice are 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, the chipotle pepper does add a bit of heat. If you don't care for that, just skip it!
- I like to make a big batch of quinoa or farro or barley and stash it in the fridge so it's super easy to put together a salad like this delicious Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad.
- 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
- 1 recipe Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa** I use this recipe
- 14 ½- ounces canned 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 ¼ 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.
See Café Tips above for further instructions and detailed tips.