This roasted sweet potato salad recipe combines goat cheese, pecans and purple onions with cilantro for an easy side dish that is sweet and tangy.
My mom is a sweet potato fiend. Since she discovered her appetite for sweet potatoes, my mom hasn't been able to get enough of them. She demands them at every holiday dinner, every celebration, every weekend at home alone.
When a plate full of orange vegetables was presented before her, she would proceed to devour most of them, greedily sliding increasingly larger servings onto her plate each time the communal dish neared her on the table. Some days, I would check her hands for the telling tints of orange, concerned she might get Beta-Carotene poisoning.
The problem is, my mother's repertoire of sweet potato or yam recipes has always been fairly limited. She would often ask me to make her sweet potato or pumpkin soup, creamy, spicy, and rich.
She herself could roast them in the oven, robust sweet potato spears nestled alongside chicken and drizzled with an olive oil-herb mixture; and that about summed it up.
But her appetite for the vitamin-rich tubers was insatiable. And as my desire to make my mother happy was usually pretty high, I was always on the look-out for new sweet potato recipes.
The perfect Thanksgiving salad
By the time Thanksgiving 2011 rolled around, I had been subjected to weeks of hints about the need for sweet potatoes. First, it was a vegetable crisper drawer absolutely overflowing with beautiful orange root vegetables. Then a package of organic sweet potatoes appeared on the table one Tuesday morning.
Next, mom told me she wanted a sweet potato dish on the table at midnight. I knew my options were limited, and I started a frantic search on the internet for festive yam or sweet potato dishes.
When I came across this Smitten Kitchen recipe, I knew I had found what I needed. First, symmetrical slices of sweet potato were beautifully browned on both sides in the oven. Then, toasted pecans were mixed with celery, cranberries and slivers of red onion, and gently tossed with tangy, rich goat cheese. A simple vinaigrette was drizzled on this "salsa", a spoonful of which was then ceremoniously placed atop each perfectly caramelized sweet potato slice.
In true Smitten Kitchen form, the recipe was involved, detailed and utterly delicious. That night, my mother and I proceeded to fight over every single serving, and even the most reluctant members of my family professed their love for the dish. It continued to haunt my memories ever since.
Why you're going to love this lazy sweet potato salad
- Simple - This salad is delicious, but simplified. On most days, I am a fairly lazy cook. I do not want to spend 30 to 40 minutes carefully roasting vegetable slices, turning them over and ensuring each side is perfectly browned, without being burned. I don't like the fussiness of eating little portions, ensuring not a drop is lost from the precious topping. Those are the kind of efforts I set aside for special occasions; on most days, I like meals that come from a bowl and straight onto my plate.
- Easy - This salad is my attempt at getting what I want while preserving the delicate balance of flavours offered by those bite-sized hors d'oeuvres.
- Perfect for Thanksgiving
- Sweet and tangy
- Sweet Potatoes: These provide the hearty base for the salad. If you don't have sweet potatoes, you can also use regular potatoes or butternut squash as alternatives.
- Red Onion: Adds a delightful pungent flavor to the dish. If you're not a fan of red onions, you can substitute with a milder onion variety like shallots or white onions.
- Olive Oil: Used to roast the sweet potatoes and red onions, giving them a rich and caramelized flavor. You can use any cooking oil you prefer as a substitute.
- Almonds or Pecans: Nuts add a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor. If you have allergies or prefer a different nut, walnuts or cashews can work as substitutes.
- Dried Cranberries: These dried cranberries (about ½ cup) provide a sweet and tangy element to the salad. If you don't have cranberries, raisins or chopped dried apricots can be used as alternatives.
- Goat Cheese: Adding creaminess and tang to the salad, you'll need goat cheese. If you're not a fan of goat cheese, feta or blue cheese can be used as substitutes.
- Fresh Herbs (Parsley or Cilantro): Use either parsley or cilantro (approximately ⅛ cup) to give the salad a burst of fresh, herbaceous flavor. If you don't have these herbs on hand, fresh basil or mint can be great alternatives.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for dressing): For the salad dressing, you'll require a bit more extra virgin olive oil. This oil adds a rich and fruity note to the dressing. You can substitute it with other high-quality cooking oils.
- Red Wine Vinegar: To add acidity and depth to the dressing. If you're out of red wine vinegar, white or balsamic vinegar can be replaced.
- Dijon Mustard: Provides a subtle kick and helps emulsify the dressing. You can use regular or honey mustard if you don't have Dijon mustard.
- Salt and Pepper: Season your salad to taste with salt and pepper, adjusting these seasonings according to your preferences.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, chop a sweet potato and an onion into one-inch cubes, ensuring the onion pieces are slightly smaller than the sweet potato pieces.
Roasting the Vegetables:
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with three tablespoons of olive oil. Toss the sweet potatoes and onions onto the baking sheet and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
Roast the onions and sweet potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes, then switch the setting to broil at 450 degrees for another 15 minutes. This will ensure that the potatoes are cooked through and browned in parts.
Toasting the Almonds or Pecans:
While the vegetables are roasting, heat a pan over medium heat and toast the chopped almonds or pecans for about two minutes, making sure to watch them closely to prevent burning. Toss them occasionally to ensure even toasting.
Preparing the Salad:
Next, chop some parsley or cilantro finely, and crumble some goat cheese. Once the sweet potatoes and onions are done roasting, transfer them into a salad bowl.
Top the vegetables with dried cranberries, the toasted almonds or pecans, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped cilantro.
Make the Salad Dressing:
Whisk together three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Once the ingredients are well combined, season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning as needed. The dressing should be tangy, slightly sweet, and rich in flavor.
Dressing the Salad:
Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad, mix well, and serve immediately.
Roasted garlic - For a fun and flavorful variation on this sweet potato and onion salad, try adding some roasted garlic to the mix. Simply roast a few cloves of garlic in the oven along with the sweet potatoes and onions, and then mash them into a paste once they're cool enough to handle.
Italian sweet potato salad - Add some chopped chives for a herbal note. Top the salad with some shaved Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a delicious twist on the classic recipe.
Vegan variation - To make this into a vegan sweet potato salad, omit the goat cheese. You can use some vegan feta or roasted tofu cubes. Add baby spinach as a base to give it more bulk.
Yes, you can substitute other types of potatoes for sweet potatoes in this recipe. However, the taste and texture of the salad may be different.
To make another salad dressing for this roasted sweet potato salad, mix together apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and the rest of the ingredients. Whisk everything together until well combined.
Yes, you can make this roasted sweet potato salad in advance. Simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, keep in mind that the salad may become slightly wilted if stored for too long.
Yes, feel free to add other ingredients to this roasted sweet potato salad to suit your taste. Some suggestions include avocado, arugula, green onions, or feta cheese.
This roasted sweet potato salad is best served chilled or at room temperature. It can be enjoyed as a side dish or as a light meal on its own.
Yes, this roasted sweet potato salad is a healthy recipe. It features nutritious ingredients like sweet potatoes, spinach, and pecans.
Yes, you can use leftover roasted sweet potatoes to make this salad. Simply combine them with the other ingredients and toss everything together.
Yes, you can make substitutions in this recipe based on your preferences. You can use different types of cheese, nuts, or greens if desired.
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Roasted sweet potatoes, onions and nuts salad, topped with goat cheese
- 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 100 grams almonds or pecans chopped (or ½ cup)
- ½ cup dried cranberries chopped
- ½ cup goat cheese
- ⅛ cup parsley or cilantro
- 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chop sweet potato into 1 inch cubes. Chop onion into slightly smaller cubes.
- Cover baking sheet with aluminium foil. Coat sheet well with 3 Tbs of olive oil. Toss sweet potatoes and onion on baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.
- Roast onions and sweet potatoes in oven for 20 minutes. Then switch to broil setting at 450 and roast for another 15 minutes. The potatoes should be cooked through and browned in parts.
- Heat a pan on medium heat. Toast 100 grams (or ½ cup) of chopped almonds or pecans for about 2 minutes, watching them closely to prevent burning, and tossing occasionally.
- Chop parsley or cilantro finely. Crumble goat cheese.
- Transfer sweet potatoes and onions into a salad bowl. Top with cranberries, toasted almonds or pecans, goat cheese and cilantro.
- Whisk together three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Once the ingredients are well combined, season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Pour dressing on top, mix well and serve immediately.
Welcome to At The Immigrant's Table! I blend my immigrant roots with modern diets, crafting recipes that take you on a global kitchen adventure. As a food blogger and photographer, I'm dedicated to making international cuisine both healthy and accessible. Let's embark on a culinary journey that bridges cultures and introduces a world of flavors right into your home. Read more...