Spring is almost here at our doorstep and with the longer brighter days I almost forget grabbing my winter coat on the way out :D And with that, I've begun counting down to the D-day too, just a month away from today!! Its exciting but I'm also restless, since there's hardly anything I can get done from here :(
A few weeks back I decided I was going to have hearty soups to tide me through the snowy winter, so I brought out the huge soup books that I bought when I first moved to this winterland. I had fun trying out many different soup recipes and also added in a bunch of salads in between. This sweet potato salad was one of them, and its the best form of salad I have ever eaten.
I vaguely remember eating sweet potato when I was kid, the memory is too distant. In the last couple of years since I started cooking, I always saw the tubers in the bins at the store but never really ventured into cooking with them. Sweet and savory just did not seem comfortable. A month back when we were driving through Virginia, my colleagues and I stopped at a diner to grab some lunch. They were serving baked regular/sweet potato with the buffet and I ordered the sweet potato. It came accompanied with a huge dollop of butter and a mound of brown sugar. The first few bites were divine! The warm, tender potato mixed with the butter and crunchy brown sugar melts in your mouth. But after the initial excitement the cloying sweetness takes over. The good thing though was I was now ready to start experimenting with the sweet tubers again.
While going through Molly's blog Orangette I came across this recipe for a warm butternut squash & chickpea salad. It was the savory dressing that drew me to the recipe, it was like no other vinaigrette I had seen and I finally found another use for the huge tub of tahini that I have in the pantry. So when I brought home the sweet potatoes this was the first recipe that struck me, may be it was because the diced potato resembled the butternut squash in color ?! Or I was trying to mask the sweetness of the potato under the savory tahini dressing. No matter what the reason, you guys just have to give this one a shot. I added some warm spices like coriander, cumin and five spice to the mix, and the result was out of the world.
Sweet Potato and Chickpea salad with Tahini dressing(Serves 3-4 as a side)Ingredients:
- 1nos - Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed into 1" pieces ~ 2 cups
- 1 cup - Chickpeas, pre-soaked and boiled (or) canned, rinse and pat dry
- 3/4 cup - Red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup - Cilantro, roughly chopped
- 4-5 nos - Mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2-3 nos - Sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1Tbsp - Olive oil
- 1/4 tsp - Chinese five spice powder (or your fav spice mix)
- 1/4 tsp - Coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp - Smoked Paprika (or) regular paprika/chilli powder to taste
- Salt to tastefor the dressing:
- 3 Tbsp - Tahini
- 2-3 Tbsp - Lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp - Olive oil
- 1 nos - Garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/4 tsp - Cumin powder
- Salt to tasteMethod:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl toss the sweet potatoes with salt and spice powders. Drizzle the olive oil and mix to coat the cubes well. Spread them on the baking sheet and let the roast for about 25-30 mins. They will shrink a little in size and get soft and tender, yummm!
- In the mean while, heat a wide skillet, add a tsp of olive oil and toast the chickpeas. You could also do this in the oven. Make sure that the chickpeas are dry when they hit the pan. Toast them for 5-6 mins till the skin starts to crisp a little.
- Start making the dressing in the same bowl you used to toss the sweet potato. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic and cumin powder. Adjust the amounts by tasting the dressing, some brands of tahini tend to be bitter (not good!) If the dressing is too thick, add a few spoons of warm water to loosen it.
- Once the sweet potatoes are ready, try not to snack on them! Instead, toss them into the dressing bowl along with the toasted chickpeas, diced onions, sun dried tomatoes, cilantro and mint. (I used the sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, if using the dry kind, reconstitute them by soaking in warm water for a few minutes.) Mix well to blend all the flavors together and check for seasonings.
- The salad can be served warm, but I liked it even at room temperature the next afternoon.
As you may have noticed, I ran out of red onions and used white ones here. Don't let any excuse of this sort stop you from trying this recipe! The nutty tahini with the warm tones of the cumin and coriander reminded me of bagara baingan. All the flavors mingle so well together in this salad that it will have you craving for more n more. Every bite is delicious and filled with so many different notes that seem perfect together. I made this about a month ago, and just writing this post makes me want to have some right now. Lucky me, I have a sweet potato waiting in veggie basket :D Most of the other ingredients in this salad are regular/pantry ingredients. So don't waste any more time, make some for yourself asap! :) O, Happy Womens day to all you gorgeous ladies :)