Make every summer BBQ complete with this Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad!
This recipe was originally published June 19, 2019. It was updated with new photos, blog post information, and recipe refinements on May 21, 2021.
Table of contents
You could call this Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad Recipe a celebratory salad.
A salad that, once the Warriors won game five of the finals and we found out that our dog Allie did not, indeed, have cancer I had to celebrate with.
What?? A quinoa salad isn't how you'd celebrate those things?! Not the first time I've heard something like that.
But, when the Warriors win only after Kevin Durant had just torn his Achilles, and you just escaped treating your dog for the third major medical condition in one year, there's something about a nourishing and energizing salad that just feels so right.
Something that says, let's do some self-care from the inside-out. Something that nourishes the soul with the complex and balanced flavors of salt, fat, acid, and heat, saying "it's going to be okay."
Because there's something about an injury that could keep a player out of his game for a year and there's something about avoiding a potentially terminal illness that you can't prevent that brings a new perspective. A perspective that reminds to enjoy life, be in the moment, and be grateful for the simple things, like a fresh healthy meal and a family to enjoy it with.
This quinoa salad recipe is...
- Lightly spicy
- Naturally sweet
If you're looking for a versatile side dish for summer cookouts and potlucks, look no further!
- Quinoa - any color of this protein-rich grain will do!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cumin, Coriander, Red pepper - savory and a touch of spicy seasonings go so well with the tangy and slightly sweet dressing.
- White wine vinegar
- Red Onion
- Golden Raisins - a bit brighter and tangier than their purple relative
- Shaved hard cheese - I recommend a combination of asiago, parmesan, and Romano cheese.
- Baby Kale
- Quinoa - many other healthy grains like brown rice, couscous, farro can work in place of the quinoa.
- Raisins - standard red or purple raisins will do just fine in place of the golden variety.
- Baby greens - any other baby green like spinach, swiss chard, or even spring salad greens, will also be tasty in this quinoa salad.
- Vinegar - distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will also work well in this recipe.
- Sweetener - maple syrup or agave syrup are also perfect for this quinoa salad.
- Hard cheese blend - just parmesan, asiago, or romano can substitute for the blend. Shaved Manchego or Iberico cheese would also be so tasty.
- Onion -- two tablespoons of white sweet onion can work in place of the red variety.
How to make sweet potato quinoa salad:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and oil a large baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Toss the cubed sweet potatoes and spices in the oil and roast until caramelized and cooked through.
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Drain and let cool (optional).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until combined.
- Add the red onions, golden raisins, baby kale, shaved cheese, roasted potatoes and quinoa to the dressing. Gently toss until covered.
- Serve warm or cool: For a warm salad, toss in the quinoa and roasted sweet potato as soon as they're done cooking. For a cool salad, let them cool to room temperature before tossing in.
- Rinse the quinoa before cooking it: this removes the soapy flavor from the grain. For best results, strain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
- Use a decent quality olive oil: as it will provide the cleanest and freshest flavor to the salad. I recommend Kirkland brand.
Yes, this salad is safe to keep at room (or warmer temperatures) while serving, as it has no eggs or other animal products that will go bad. To keep the salad fresh I don't recommend keeping it out longer than 2 hours, but that recommendation is simply for flavor and presentation, not food safety.
You can buy quinoa at most major grocery store chains, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Costco, and online at Thrive Market.
You can make this salad ahead up to 24 hours ahead of time. If making it more than 2 hours ahead of time, mix the baby kale into the salad just before serving to prevent wilting.
Yes, you certainly can use pre-cooked or frozen quinoa for this recipe. If frozen, just defrost before stirring into the salad.
How to cook quinoa:
- Bring a medium-size saucepan of salted water to boil over high heat.
- Rinse your quinoa with cold water in a fine-mesh strainer. This will help to remove that "soapy" flavor.
- Add the quinoa to the boiling water. Reduce the temperature to medium-high. Stir the quinoa a couple times and let the quinoa cook for 14-15 minutes, adjusting the temperature if the water starts to boil over and continuing to stir every few minutes.
- Drain the quinoa through the mesh strainer, shaking the strainer a few times to get the excess water off.
You can serve this quinoa salad warm or cold with any of the following accompaniments:
- Grilled chicken or broiled salmon
This salad is also great with a glass of sauvignon blanc, vinho verde, or pinot grigio wine.
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, processed sugar-free, and vegetarian.
To make it vegan, just omit the cheese (or use a vegan parmesan cheese) and use maple syrup or agave syrup in place of the honey.
- Refrigeration: recipe leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To make leftovers last longer, stir the baby kale in to individual servings before serving, as the salad dressing will wilt the greens if stored for longer.
- Freezing: leftovers do not freeze well.
Tools needed to make this sweet potato salad:
- Large cookie sheet
- Wire cooling rack
- Mixing bowls
- Heat-safe spatula or turner
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Silicone spatula
More tasty salad recipes:
- Broccoli Raisin Salad
- Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Moroccan Roasted Vegetable Salad
- Cranberry & Edamame Brown Rice Salad
- Broccoli Coleslaw
- Greek Quinoa Salad
- 5 Bean Salad (Gluten-Free + Vegan!)
- Avocado Blueberry Salad
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