Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of providing lunches for a yoga teacher training.  Doing Kundalini Kriyas from 7am to 7pm four days in a row builds up quite an appetite, as you can imagine, so I wanted to offer a good array of foods in good amounts to keep them nourished throughout the day.  I was asked to provide salad each day, among other things, which was a bit of a challenge for me, because I typically don’t make/eat salads in the colder months.  Requests like this that are outside my usual norm can provide such wonderful inspiration and that’s exactly what happened.  I did provide raw green salads each day, but as the days went on, I realized that I needed some heartier salads and sides as well.

This salad is simple and delicious.  Of course, it requires a little prep if you don’t have cooked quinoa and sweet potatoes on hand, but I usually either have them or want them in my fridge, so I either use leftovers or cook extras and have leftovers for something else.  Even if you start from the beginning, this will only take you an hour to prepare, max, with only about 15 minutes of your attention required.  Doubling or tripling it won’t add much to the prep time, and it’s a great dish to bring to a potluck.

I’m going to provide the basic recipe, but there are many options for creating more complex flavors with spices or garnishes – I made a Southwest version to go with my Chile-Lime Vegetable soup, but I know I’ll make many other versions of this in the future.

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (start with 1 cup dry)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, unfiltered if you have it, or the best-tasting oil you have on hand
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 big handful of parsley, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Optional embellishments:

  • For a Southwestern flavor, use minced red onion instead of the shallots, lime juice instead of lemon juice and sprinkle with pepitas; use cilantro instead of parsley, if you wish.
  • For an African version, add up to 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger and Berbere spice (start with 1/2 teaspoon – amount will highly depend on the heat of your particular blend; if you don’t have Berbere spice, try 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each ground allspice, fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, paprika, and cayenne, or as close as you can get with what you have on hand).
  • For an Asian flavor, add up to 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger, use 2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar instead of the lemon juice, tamari instead of salt, and add a splash of toasted sesame oil; garnish with crushed nori.
  • For a Moroccan version, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each ground tumeric, cumin, and cinnamon, stir in about 1 cup of chopped tomatoes, and garnish with cilantro.
  • For a Spanish version, add 1 teaspoon minced garlic to the shallots about 1 minute before you stir in the spinach and spice with 1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads and 1 2 teaspoons smoked paprika.
  • To add some simple deliciousness to the basic salad, garnish with roasted leeks and crispy kale
  • If you’d like to add a little more protein, add some cooked beans to the quinoa before dressing (chickpeas would be delicious with the basic version, as well as the African and Moroccan versions; white beans would be great with the spanish version, black beans with the Southwestern version, and maybe some baked tofu with the Asian version)

If you haven’t already, get the sweet potatoes roasting and the quinoa cooking.  Meanwhile, saute the shallots in olive oil until they are just beginning to brown, stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted.  When the quinoa is ready, dress it with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, then stir in the parsley and crushed red pepper.  Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper as needed.  Stir in the roasted sweet potatoes and garnish as you wish.  Enjoy!


  1. Jane said

    I loved this salad when you made it for us at the yoga training. Thanks for sharing!!

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