roasted sweet potato salad

You know how certain recipes just hit a nerve? Like, you see them and you just know: This recipe is The One. I have to have it. NOW.

A couple weeks back when Deb posted a recipe for a roasted sweet potato salad, that was my reaction. Right away (almost) I was flying to the store for cilantro and avocados and then, when I realized I’d overlooked the pepitas, calling my husband at work and making him stop by the store on the way home.

That day (or one very soon after — I don’t remember the exact timeline), I spent the dinner prep slicing sweet potatoes, arranging them in tidy rows on pans puddling with olive oil, and then roasting and flipping them so they got nice and toasty brown on both sides. Some of them I baked too long, so I picked those out and quick sliced another half of a potato to supplement.

Kids wandered through the kitchen, snitching potatoes when they thought I wasn’t looking and then dodging and fleeing when I stormed them, arms flailing. (And then, the kitchen cleared of kids, I’d pop the potatoes I’d just saved into my own mouth, shh.)

“We’re going to eat them just like that, right?” my older daughter had asked.

“Nope, I’m making a salad with them.”

“A salad, nooooooo!” she’d wailed. “You can’t do that! They’re so good plain!”

“They’ll be good in salad, too,” I said.

Then, “Mom’s ruining the potatoes,” she announced to her brother who’d just walked in, and I had to have the whole conversation all over again.

By the time I smacked the pan of salad down in the middle of the table, the entire family was in a snit. Mumbled cries of “You ruined them,” and “But why?” and, “Isn’t there anything else?” greeted my gorgeous creation. Teeth gritted, I scooped salad onto plates.

And then they ate the salad and some of them even actually liked it (giant eye roll).

“I’m actually kinda digging this,” my older son said (who, to be clear, had been the only child who hadn’t fussed). “Now I get why you added all this stuff.” And later that evening, my husband, with no prompting, mentioned the salad again. “It was really good,” he said, “Like, really good.” Ha!

I made the salad again a few days later, this time as a meal delivery for my parents (and plus a grape pie and vanilla ice cream).

“I can’t have this salad around the house,” I explained. “I’m absolutely helpless against it. I lose all control.”

A couple hours later, my mom sent me an email. The subject line read, “Salad, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh,” and then in the body, “That was soooooooooooooooooo good. … This is heaven.”

So there you go. The sophisticated one has spoken.

Eat up!

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad 
Adapted from Deb’s blog Smitten Kitchen.

I peeled my sweet potatoes but Deb says that’s unnecessary.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and sliced thin
olive oil
salt and black pepper
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raw or roasted
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2 limes
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced
fresh cilantro, rough chopped
4 green onions, chopped
½ cup feta

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on sided baking pans that have been liberally spread with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with plenty of salt and black pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until they are starting to brown on the bottom. Flip the potatoes and continue baking until the second side is nice and toasty brown. As each tray finishes (you’ll probably have about three trays), consolidate the potatoes into one baking sheet.

In a small saucepan, combine several tablespoons olive oil (the stuff leftover from the baking trays, or fresh oil), the pepitas, and the red pepper flakes. Simmer them over medium heat until the seeds are golden brown. They can go from raw to burned in no time, so keep a close eye on them.

To assemble the salad:
Sprinkle the beans over the potatoes. Drizzle the olive oil and pepita mixture over top. Squeeze the juice from one lime on top. Distribute the avocado slices, cilantro, green onions, and feta over all. Drizzle with more lime juice, if desired, or chop the remaining lime into wedges and nestle into the corners of the pan.

Leftovers are fantastic: just take out any leftover avocado prior to refrigerating the salad (it would taste fine, but the browning makes it look icky), and then, right before eating, add some fresh avocado, if you want.

This same time, years previous: a few good things, the quotidian (3.5.18), one-pan roasted sausages and vegetables, classic German gingerbread, creamy, costco-esque cake filling, tradition!, girl party, grocery shopping, the quotidian (3.5.12), doctors galore.


  • Kathy

    “Heaven’s Salad”. Ate this about a month ago, prepared by your very own mother (She’s also my dear friend). I raved! I could have concocted and crooned a carefully created tribute!! I could have danced with banners waving (might have appeared a bit odd, considering my age; but, who cares?!) Honestly, it was fantastic!! Thank you for this recipe. p.s. Simply eating cilantro sends me into heavenly realms! This is the dish for me, for sure!!

  • Steve

    Minor spelling correction. (No need to publish this comment.)

    pepito – a type of sandwich

    pepita – hulless pumpkin seeds

  • Brian

    Saw that recipe, definitely want to try it, even have the sweet potatoes. Glad to hear it was so well liked by your skeptics!

  • Erin

    You refer to Deb just like I do, casually and with affection. I like to imagine Deb and I are BFFs. Smitten Kitchen for the win! This salad looks amazing.

  • rachel

    We made this recipe recently too! In fact I just finished eating leftovers for lunch! But on first pass we also added a runny fried egg to the top of each plate. Amazing….

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