24 December 2012

recipe: orange sweet potato salad

A Middle-Eastern themed salad is TOTALLY perfect to serve at family Christmas functions.  Baby spinach, scallions, dates, candied walnuts, roasted sweet potato...  What.  WHAT.


Okay.  Truth is, I made this because it's quick, easily doubled, Sister-approved, and filling.  These traits are necessary, as they prevent me from spiraling into a Christmas melt-down.  YAY CHRISTMAS IS FUN or whatever people who like Christmas say

Orange Sweet Potato Salad
GF - 45 minutes - serves 4

Olive oil
1 large sweet potato (I used jeweled yams)
Salt
1t cumin
1/2t coriander
1/2t cinnamon
1/4t cloves
1c quinoa
1/2c walnuts, chopped
2T maple syrup
Zest and juice from 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1T balsamic vinegar
4 scallions, chopped
1/4c fresh parsley, chopped
1/2c dates, chopped
6oz baby spinach

Turn your oven up to 400F and slap down some parchment paper on your baking sheet.  Chop your sweet potato up into 1-inch cubes or smaller and spread them out in a single layer across the sheet.  Spray with olive oil, then sprinkle on your salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves.  It's not important to be exact with the amounts, but if you want to make it easier, you can combine the spices beforehand and sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potatoes.


Throw those in the oven for 30 minutes, or until they're nice and mushy when squished.


... Matt definitely changed the color filter on the camera between those two pictures.  It was a good change. This was before he started eating all the candied nuts.

Right after you stick the sweet potatoes in the oven, put your quinoa on to boil with 2 cups of water, a sprinkling of salt, and about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Fun part: now you get to candy your walnuts!  Toss those babies into a skillet and toast them over medium heat for about 5 minutes.


They'll start to smell amazing.  Then add about a teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Stir that into the nuts and let them keep cooking for 30 more seconds.

Add your maple syrup.


This part is the best!  The syrup will start bubbling right away.


And you need to be stirring constantly to coat the walnuts with the rapidly-caramelizing syrup.  After about 30 more seconds have passed, and your nuts look like this:


You're done.  See how they're all shiny and delicious-looking?  Scoot them out of the pan and onto a sheet of parchment paper to cool.  Try not to eat them all before you throw them in the salad.  Also don't let your husband eat them all.  It's hard to keep track of him when your kitchen has two doors.

Once everything isn't scalding hot - which means your quinoa should be about done steaming and you should be able to pick your sweet potatoes up with your fingers - assemble everybody in your salad bowl!


Pour the orange juice, zest, lemon juice, and balsamic in first.  Stir to let the quinoa soak that up evenly.  After that, all the other ingredients except the baby spinach can dive in - that'll be your sweet potatoes, dates, scallions, parsley, and nuts.  Once that's fully integrated, add the spinach and mix one last time.


If you don't mind warm salad, you can serve it immediately.  Me, I'm keeping it in the fridge for a few hours first.  But only because I have people to impress.

Hopefully Matt doesn't pry into it and eat all the nuts.

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