Monday, March 08, 2010

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad

Dear Foodies,

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 taste
for 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 taste
Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 :)

19 thoughts:

Pavithra said...

Nice wonderful salad with all my fav combination.. Looks so good and healthy. Wonderful click as well. Loved ur header too priya...

Nags said...

absolutely love sweet potatoes in salads. gives it a nice kick!

aquadaze said...

I have both in my house right now - neat coincidence for I just made sweet potato and chickpea chaat!
This salad looks very nice, nothing to stop me from trying it right away!

Parita said...

Nice combination! I love sweet potatoes in curry , yet to try them in salads, love the dressing, sounds delicious!

Reshmi said...

sweet potato n chickpea salad.....woww the combo iz great....i had chickpea soup only..never hd chickpea salad....lovely click..

Tina said...

Beautiful clicks dear...Salad looks delicious and colourful..

TREAT AND TRICK said...

Great presentation, love this healthy, yummy and colorful salad, thanks for sharing....

AMA's AnythingVegetarian said...

unique Combo.Me too I never go beyond making sambar with sweet potatoes.I should start experimenting.

Soma said...

Very very much to my liking and kind. The dressing sounds really really good.

Bong Mom said...

Priya,

Sorry for not checking earlier, I had assumed you wouldn't be back until D-Day.

This really looks like a warm, sunny salad. I use up all my sweet potato to feed A, am not too fond of them ;-)

Priya said...


Pavithra, you almost forget its healthy since its packed with soo much flavor :D I was just planning to change the header to a new spring look, may be later :D

Nags, yep, I don't think I will be using them any other way soon :)

Aquadaze, oooh, chaat sounds yummm too. I'll go try making that while you try this salad, deal ? :)

Parita, May be I should push myself and use them in a curry now, thai style perhaps...

Reshmi, and I've never had chickpea soup! Do you have a recipe for it ?

Tina, thank you :)

Priya said...


T & T, glad you like it :)

Ama's, I need to start using it more too :) Sambar looks like a nice start

Soma, I new that the salad gal in you will like this one ;)

Sandeepa, no sorry needed at all! I never planned on taking the break, but I just got lazier by the day, and then did not know where to start :D Had to get back on track though :)
Until this salad I never cooked with sweet potatoes either, give it a shot and you might enjoy it too :)

Sonia said...

Hello, where is my previous comment in butter scones post? it seems you have eaten it. :P
Salad looks so fresh and warm! I hope your 'short' break is over now. ;) :D

Actually my eyes have been thirsty to see your beautiful pics here. :)

Priya said...


Sonu, I lost the comment while switching from blogspot.com to .com :( Some bug in the blogger system makes me lose all comments when I make the switch, so got back to blogspot.com for now.
I am trying to feed you guys before I leave to India in a few weeks :D

Miri said...

Thats indeed a very interesting dressing - thanks for the recipe!

Nirmala said...

Nice to see u back blogging Priya! I lvoe sweet potato in the only curry that amma makes during pongal. That goes well with the ven pongal. This salad looks very inviting and I love the wooden trunk like plate that was served in! Wonderful shot it is! I usually boil the sweet potatoes and remove the skins, mash it and mix with a spoonful of sugar, little ghee, a pinch of cardamom and coconut shreddings. We will have it like shaped as kozhukattai :) U won;t believe that I have post about it in my blog!

meeso said...

I love sweet potatoes and chickpeas, this is absolutely perfect!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Yum! This looks and sounds great. I love sweet potatoes.

Gayathri Rao said...

Hey Priya,
Great effort !! Love your blog :) will try out this Sweet potato and Chickpea Salad !!
Have a nice day !
Gayathri.

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