Now that temperatures seem to be steadily on the rise, a favorite warm weather activity can commence—dining alfresco. Weekends spent lounging on the deck with friends and family mean sampling a smorgasbord of seasonal eats, but a dish I tend to avoid at these gatherings is potato salad. Nothing seems less appealing on a hot day than food coated in creamy dressing. I know the majority disagree, or potato salad would have lost its prominent position a long time ago.
My negative feelings toward this ubiquitous side changed the first time I made sweet potato salad, a version that broke from tradition. Roasted sweet potatoes, onions, black beans and red peppers are tossed in a fresh and zesty olive oil-based cilantro lime dressing. Crisp red peppers satisfyingly contrast with soft chunks of sweet potato. I often make a bigger batch to ensure I have leftovers that get a second life as a filling for quesadillas or a topping for brown rice.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Adapted from The New York Times September 2009 by Mark Bittman
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1-1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt plus a pinch for dressing
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus a pinch for dressing
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno, minced
1 garlic clove, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
1-15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the sweet potatoes and onions on a foil-lined sheet pan. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes until a knife easily pierces the potatoes, and the edges have started to brown. Set aside.
To make the dressing, place the jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a pinch of both salt and pepper in a blender. Process until fully blended.
In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onions, black beans and red peppers. Toss with cilantro and the dressing.
Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 days.