I AM A POTATO SALAD SNOB! There – I said it! I love potato salad…..when I make it! I’m horrible….I know! I’m just super picky when it comes to the spices, the add-ins, the dressing, and most especially, the potatoes! I think what ruins it for me 99% of the time is when potato salad is made with over cooked potatoes, YUK! Having said all that, today I’m switching things up and making a sweet potato salad….definitely not your run-of-the-mill picnic fare!
Sweet potatoes are just so darn good – and good for you! They are rich in beta carotene and an excellent source of vitamin A. Research has shown that including a little healthy fat when eating sweet potatoes actually increases your body’s uptake of beta carotene. The homemade mayo in this recipe provides the fat needed to accomplish this. The salad is seasoned with curry and cumin, and cayenne…..three of my favorites! But aside from being delicious these seasonings have health benefits as well! Curry powder is actually a spice mix that health-wise is beneficial for the prevention of cancer, it can reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms, it eases inflammation and thereby pain, it boosts bone health, protects the immune system, and increases the liver’s ability to remove toxins. Ummmm….WOW! More curry on EVERYTHING please!!!! Cumin has a myriad of healthful benefits as well. It’s a digestive aid, it helps treat insomnia, respiratory disorders, anemia, skin disorders, and cancer too! Cayenne is an anti-cold and flu agent, it has anti-fungal properties, it can serve to prevent migraines, it’s an anti-allergen, it supports weight loss, and is credited with many other health benefits! So basically what I’m saying is 1 serving of Grilled Sweet Potato Salad a day keeps the doctor away…or is at the very least as effective as an apple a day!
So I’ve confessed to being a potato salad snob and hating over-cooked potatoes, but the other thing I hate is gloppy and goopy over-dressed potato salad! To me, the dressing should enhance the flavors of all the ingredients and also act as a conduit for the seasonings. If too much dressing is used, then all the flavors are lost and the salad is just….yucky! 🙁 For today’s recipe I’m only using a half cup of homemade mayonnaise – the perfect amount to coat all the salad ingredients, carry all those warm yummy spices, and enhance the flavors of all the components of this salad.
The ingredient list for this salad is pretty straight forward. Obviously we need sweet potatoes (with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper for grilling) and mayonnaise – I use homemade and you can find my recipe here, also pecans, craisins, a small shallot, a little salt, and some lemon juice. I also decided to grill the sweet potatoes to add another layer of flavor, but in the winter I roast them so I don’t have to trudge through the snow! I like the pecans for crunch, and flavor, of course! And the craisins are such a natural complement to the sweet potatoes, plus I like the chewy sweetness they add! In a large bowl I mix the mayo, minced shallot, seasonings, and lemon juice. After grilling the sweet potatoes I cut them into bite sized pieces and combine them, the pecans, and craisins with the seasoned dressing. Gently stir it all together to get the yummy dressing distributed on all the other ingredients.
I do like to peel my sweet potatoes a little bit. I don’t worry about getting every bit of peel removed, but I’m just not a fan of the skins – if you like them then by all means, leave them on! After peeling the potatoes, slice them into approximately 1/2″ thick rounds. Once they’re all peeled and sliced, toss them with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper, then grill them on medium heat for about 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking time. Keep an eye on them after about 15 minutes to make sure they don’t get too soft. You may find you need to remove some of the smaller pieces before the larger ones are done. Once they’re grilled and cooled enough to handle, cut them into pieces and assemble the salad!
- 3 sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds, peeled & sliced into 1/2" rounds
- 1/2 cup pecans, slightly broken up by hand
- 2/3 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Toss sliced sweet potatoes with EVOO and salt & pepper, and grill over medium heat approximately 15-20 minutes or until al dente, turning after the first 10 minutes of cooking time.
- Meanwhile mix mayo, minced shallot, lemon juice, curry, cumin, and cayenne in large bowl. Set aside.
- Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite sized pieces.
- Add cut sweet potatoes, pecans, and craisins to the large bowl and stir gently until everything is combined and coated in dressing.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if needed.
- Refrigerate in covered container.
- I recommend making the salad several hours before serving so it has a chance to thoroughly chill and to allow the flavors meld.