Every once in awhile when I’m having one of those days at work, I daydream about opening my own gluten-free cafe. And if I were ever to take the plunge, I’d model it after the super cute coffee shop/cafe that I worked at during my high school summer vacations.
The place was always swarming with tourists, who gravitated to the coffee drinks, baked goods, and sandwiches. But in-the-know locals would come in route to picnics on the beach and clean out our deli case, which was always stocked with goodies like stuffed peppers, quinoa salad and potato salads.
My clear favorite was the sweet potato salad, so colorful with its corn, black beans and cilantro. In my attempts to recreate it, I stumbled across a recipe for Mark Bittman’s Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, which proved to be a perfect starting point.
I adapted the recipe a bit to add corn and cumin (I tried it the original way as well but felt they both, the cumin especially, really add something special) to bring it a little closer to the version I already knew and loved.
Unfortunately I had to make another minor adjustment as well. Since my oven recently bit the dust, I had to boil the sweet potatoes and leave the red onion raw, although I still wrote the recipe below to specify that the sweet potatoes should be roasted as I have no doubt it takes it to the next level of deliciousness.
But if you’re stuck in one of those efficiency kitchens with just a fridge and a hotplate, don’t feel like you have to miss out on the fun. It’s still a total winner even with basic boiled sweet potatoes.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Corn
Yield: 6-8 servings
Total Time: 45 minutes
4 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 to 2 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained (approximately 1 can, drained)
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, slightly thawed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning the potatoes once or twice, until they begin to brown and are tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Place the chili pepper, garlic, lime juice, and remaining olive oil in a blender or mini food processor and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
Place the potatoes and onions in a large bowl. Add the beans, corn and bell pepper. Drizzle with the dressing and cilantro and toss to coat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. The salad can also be refrigerated for several days.
Note: if you chose to boil the potatoes, you can leave the red onion raw. In addition, instead of dividing the oil you can put the full 1/2 cup in the blender or food processor when making the dressing.