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Salad with Sweet Potato and Quinoa

Quinoa sweet potato salad is a delicious hearty salad with wonderful contrasts of sweet-tang, soft-crunch and pastel-bold. Definitely company-worthy.

Packed with interesting, yummy ingredients and textures, it’s a feast for the palate and eyes. 

salad with quinoa sweet potato nuts and goat cheese on plate

The idea came from a dish I ate at a recent fund raising event. The food was catered by Oliver and Bonacini. I loved the multi-layered salad and decided to create my own version. 

This quinoa and sweet potato salad is hearty enough to be served as a main dish, perhaps for lunch with a crusty bread. Or as a first course or a side.

Ingredient notes – Tailor to your taste

The salad has a lot going on with its many colors, textures and tastes. Feel free to add your own twist with a few variations and substitutions.

  • Sweet potatoes: Yams would be fine too.
  • Quinoa: This can be substituted with other grains like a nutty, chewy farro. 
  • Cheese: The goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy taste. Try feta (stronger) or ricotta (milder) if you prefer. 
  • Nuts: The cashews add a crunch. Other options are toasted walnuts, pecans or pumpkins seeds (pepitas) or anything really.
  • Dried fruit: The cranberries add tang and sweetness. Dried apricots or raisins would work well too. 
  • Dressing: The dressing is one of my all time favorites – rich and complex and easy to make. I used the Maple Balsamic dressing created by Ricardo with just a small tweak. If you have another favorite, go for it. 

Recipe Steps

salad with quinoa sweet potato nuts and goat cheese on plate
Assemble salad on plates or large serving platter with greens, cranberries, cashews, goat cheese and a maple balsamic dressing.
6 plates of sweet potato and greens salad
Serve as a starter or side salad.
close up of salad with quinoa sweet potato nuts and cheese plate

Shortcut

  • Instead of roasting the sweet potatoes, microwave them until fully tender (4-6 minutes depending on size). Peel and cut them into small cubes, then drizzle with 1-2 tsp oil. Sprinkle on sugar (or maple syrup) and salt and toss.

Make Ahead 

  • The recipe can be made ahead and assembled. Just drizzle on the dressing right before serving.

Other hearty salads you might like

salad with quinoa sweet potato nuts and goat cheese on plate
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Salad with Sweet Potato and Quinoa

Quinoa sweet potato salad is a delicious hearty salad with wonderful contrasts of sweet-tang, soft-crunch and pastel-bold. Packed with interesting, yummy ingredients and textures, it's a feast for the palate and eyes. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

Yams

  • 2 sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Quinoa

  • 1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Maple-Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoon oil (canola or olive)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 3 cup greens (baby spinach, spring lettuce, Mesclun)
  • 2 ounces goat cheese (60 grams or 1/4 cup crumbled)

Garnish

  • roasted or candied nuts or seeds; dried cranberries; and/or roasted beets cut in cubes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F/218C.
  • MAKE THE ROASTED SWEET POTATOES: Pierce sweet potatoes with a knife. Microwave for 3 minutes. Stand up each yam on a cutting board, peel with a knife, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on a foil lined pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with brown sugar and salt. Roast, stirring half way through for 15-20 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Set aside. Note 1
  • MAKE THE QUINOA: Place the rinsed Quinoa in a medium pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil. Set heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork. Cool.
  • MAKE THE DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk together the first 5 dressing ingredients. Slowly add the oil while whisking until smoothly blended. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon salt should be about right).
  • BUILD THE SALAD: (on individual salad plates or on one larger shallow bowl): Spread about 1/2 cup per person of Quinoa on the bottom. Drizzle a little dressing on the Quinoa. Add a layer of greens. Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese. Add the garnishes you are using. Drizzle more of the Maple-Balsamic dressing over the salad – you may not need it all.

Notes

  1. Shortcut sweet potatoes: Microwave until soft (4-5 minutes depending on size).Peel, cut into small cubes, drizzle with 1-2 tsp oil, sprinkle on sugar (or maple syrup) and salt. Toss. 
  2. Make Ahead: Make all components. Assemble. Drizzle final dressing just before serving. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates and do not include garnishes like nuts and dried fruit.

Nutrition

Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 467mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 11017IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg
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3 Comments

    1. Hi Fran. Coat the beets with a bit of oil. Wrap in tin foil. Place on baking pan and roast at 375F for 45-60 min or until easily poked with a knife. Let cool 10 minutes then peel and slice. Enjoy!