Around this time of the year, when sweet potatoes are abundant at the market, this roasted sweet potato, black bean and kale salad is one of the meals we make regularly. We’v been through a few modifications, but it’s loosely based on a recipe we found years ago on the New York Time’s Cooking website (it’s behind a paywall now).
Anyway, it’s one of those warm hearty salads that’s satisfyingly flavourful and also comforting for the season. As a matter of fact, we’ve been making some iteration of salad with roasted sweet potatoes now for the past three weekends.
Two weekends ago we added carrots and slow roasted tomatoes to the sweet potatoes and drizzled a light tahini vinaigrette over it. Last weekend’s had a melange of purple and sweet potatoes, crispy chickpeas and cilantro.
This particular salad is special, it’s elevated with a sprinkle of warm autumnal spices. One would argue that sweet potato is good on its own, it doesn’t need help with spices. I don’t disagree, however, a dash of warm bright spices really enlivens this salad. The trick is not to let the spice overwhelm the potatoes; I love Essie Spice’s Meko Dry Rub for this, but a mild curry powder works equally well.
Recently we’ve been experimenting with Colombo, a mild curry mix from French Antilles – we picked up a jar while on vacation, it’s such a fascinating all-purpose spice; we’ve been trying it in savoury dishes to great success! If you don’t have any of these spices on hand, use a blend of turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, ginger and black pepper. Which is all to say that make adjustments according to the spices you have on hand.
Consider this recipe as a guide that lends itself to substitution; while I love the texture of black beans with tender sweet potatoes, I’m thinking lentils would make a superb substitution. And I know for a fact that chickpeas are equally great in this salad. Whatever adjustments you choose to make, the salad would come together quickly, precook your beans or utilise the canned beans from your pantry, the kale can also be prepped in advance. I keep the skins on the potatoes for more fibre (i.e. I’m lazy!).
I highly recommend massaging the kale, it breaks it down, making it easier to digest. Using your hand, rub the chopped kale together with a little bit of olive oil and salt until the leaves shrink and become silky in texture.
While the salad is good on its own, the mustard dressing brightens the flavours and brings a zesty element to the mix. It stays fresh for a few days so leftovers are great.
- 1 large heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
- 1 small garlic clove, minced or 1 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 – 2 tablespoons warm water, optional to thin out dressing
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For Salad
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes - about 3 – 4 medium sized potatoes, (peeled, if preferred and) cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 large purple onion, chopped into chunks
- 1 tablespoon milk curry or Colombo powder or similar spices
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, optional
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch of kale, finely chopped and massaged
- 10 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cups cooked black beans (from about 1 cup dried beans or 2 16-oz canned)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil
- Combine sweet potato and onion in a large bowl
- Sprinkle with curry powder, turmeric, pepper flakes and salt
- Toss together with olive oil until evenly coated
- Spread potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet
- Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through
- When potatoes are done, transfer to a large bowl and toss them together with kale, sun-dried tomatoes and black beans
- Serve warm with dressing