This Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad has a vibrant mix of flavours and textures. It combines the earthiness of quinoa with the caramelized sweetness of roasted sweet potatoes and the crunch of fresh greens. The addition of a creamy tahini dressing makes this a deliciously nutritious dish.
In This Article
What Makes This Recipe So Good?
This is a hearty salad that combines healthy fats, a grain, protein, a little dairy and vegetables making it one of the best healthy meals. The sweet potato and quinoa are the stars though all ingredients contribute plenty of nourishment.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, along fibre and an abundance of antioxidants. They also contain a range of minerals such as iron, manganese, potassium, and copper making them a highly nutritious food.
Quinoa is high in essential fatty acids, fibre, and B vitamins. Like sweet potato, it’s also rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. Additionally, it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein source. The lentils also add protein so this delicious recipe is perfect for the vegetarians in your life. And the vegans if you remove the goat’s cheese.
Ingredients – What You’ll Need To Make This Recipe
This salad has so much flavor, uses simple ingredients and it makes an excellent meatless meal. It’s one of my favorite recipes to enjoy in the warmer weather but it makes a great winter salad too if served warm.
- Sweet Potato – Adds natural sweetness and a creamy texture to the dish.
- Quinoa – Provides a nutty taste, protein, and a fluffy yet slightly crunchy texture. I like the tricolor but plain white quinoa or red quinoa are also fine.
- Lentils – Offer additional protein and a soft, earthy element to the salad. Other legume suggestions that are a great mix with these ingredients are chickpeas or black beans.
- Chicken broth or vegetable broth – Enhance the overall savoury flavour of the dish. Cooking the quinoa in chicken broth also improves its digestibility.
- Olive Oil – Provides richness and acts as a base for the dressing, adding a smooth mouthfeel.
- Honey – Adds sweetness and balances out the acidity in the dressing. Maple syrup could also be used if preferred to make this salad vegan. Top Tip – If you’ve made my fermented garlic honey use this instead!
- Garlic – Offers a pungent, savoury taste and aroma.
- Lime Juice – Contributes tanginess and brightness to the overall flavour profile.
- Goat’s Cheese – Offers a creamy and tangy element that complements the sweetness of the potatoes.
- Roast Almonds – Provide a nice crunchy texture.
- Spices – Things like ground cumin, smoked paprika and sumac bring warm, earthy, smoky and citrusy notes to the dish. They help to pick up the heavier ingredients like the lentils and quinoa.
- Cilantro/coriander – Brings a bright, fresh herbal flavour.
- Tahini – Introduces a creamy, nutty richness to the dressing.
- Salad Greens – Baby spinach, arugula or mixed greens serve as a versatile base and also contribute texture.
This salad is quite versatile so additions or substitutions will generally work well. Butternut squash could replace the sweet potato, crunchy pecans could replace the roast almonds or things like pine nuts or sunflower seeds could be added. All are delicious, and a good combination with the other ingredients here.
How To Make This Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
This salad does take some time to make but overall it’s a very easy recipe. It’s great as a main meal or side dish and leftovers make a tasty, healthy lunch too.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
- Start by making the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, tahini, lime juice, honey, minced garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside until you assemble the salad.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into wedges about 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the cumin, smoked paprika, sumac, salt and pepper. Toss everything well to combine.
- Place the tray in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and slightly caramelized. Once done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the potatoes aside to cool.
- As soon as the potatoes are in the oven combine the quinoa and broth (or 2 cups of water) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and the liquid is completely absorbed. Once done, turn the heat off then fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- Arrange the cooked quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and your greens of choice in layers on a serving tray (or add to a large bowl). Pour the dressing over the salad then sprinkle over the goat’s cheese, chopped roasted almonds, cilantro/coriander, and za’atar over the top.
- Serve and Enjoy!
This salad will serve four people as a main course or eight as a side salad.
Substitutions And Variations
While this is delicious as is, it could also be served as sweet potato quinoa bowls. This would mean serving in a similar way to grain bowls/nourish bowls where each ingredient is served in its own dish and everyone makes their meal by choosing the ingredients they’d like for their bowl. A great option for your picky eaters!
Another option is cutting the sweet potato and greens into much smaller pieces and then tossing everything together. This makes it more of a chopped salad that can be served with tortilla chips to scoop it up.
For those with a dairy intolerance or on plant-based diets, the goat’s cheese can be left out. The tahini makes the dressing nice and creamy so the cheese won’t be missed in the salad. If you need other ideas for vegan salads try this mango cucumber salad. It’s another favourite!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It makes a delicious lunch the next day but should not exceed a day or two in storage. The greens wilt in the fridge once you dress the salad, making them much less palatable.
If serving the salad cold, you can prepare the quinoa, sweet potato, and salad dressing ahead of time and store them in the fridge separately. When you’re ready to make the salad, simply add to a salad bowl or serving platter and drizzle with the dressing then the toppings.
Expert Hints And Tips
Don’t skip on rinsing (or better yet, soaking) the quinoa. This step is crucial to remove the saponins, a chemical compound present in quinoa that acts as a protective mechanism for the plant against pathogens. They also happen to give quinoa a very bitter or soapy taste if not washed off before cooking. Many people claim they don’t like quinoa, which is often because they haven’t properly prepared it before cooking.
If you have time, soaking quinoa in water overnight with a squeeze of lemon juice is the best way to prepare it and get rid of a lot of the saponins. It also helps to reduce the phytic acid content, which is another compound that can inhibit the absorption of some minerals like iron, magnesium etc.
To soak and cook quinoa
First, place one cup of quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse very well. Place the quinoa in a large bowl, cover with plenty of water and add in a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to soak overnight.
Next morning, drain the quinoa through a fine mesh sieve and rinse well again.
Add to a saucepan with 1.5 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until all the liquid has been completely absorbed.
Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit covered for about 5 minutes. This allows any remaining moisture to be absorbed and gives the quinoa a chance to fluff up.
After resting, fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving with the salad.
If you don’t soak quinoa…
Rinse the quinoa REALLY well.
To do this, place it in a large bowl or pot, cover it with water and agitate the water with your hand until it becomes very foamy or soapy. That’s the saponins washing off. Rinse through a fine mesh sieve and repeat until the foaming stops. This might take three or four washes. On the last one strain through the strainer and run some water through it as well to get rid of any remaining saponin residue. Then continue on with cooking as per the recipe instructions.
Cooking quinoa in chicken broth can also help to improve its flavour and digestibility so I recommend doing this over simply cooking it in water.
Other Healthy Salads To Try
If you try this recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment, rate it, and remember to tag @wholenaturalkitchen in your pics or reels on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok!
Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
- 1 Saucepan
- 1 Sheet pan
- Stove top
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (see note 1)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 700g sweet potato (1.5 pounds)
- ¾ cup cooked lentils (or ½ tin, drained and rinsed – see note 2)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp sumac
- 80g goat's cheese (3 ounces)
- ¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped
- 3 cups mixed greens (arugula/rocket, baby spinach etc)
- 1 tbsp za'atar (or dukkah)
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup coriander/cilantro, finely chopped to sprinkled over assembled salad
For the creamy tahini dressing
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
Make the dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tbsp olive oil, tahini, lime juice, honey (see note 3), crushed garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside while you make the salad.
To make the salad
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into wedges about 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Pour over 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin, smoked paprika, sumac, salt and pepper. Toss everything well to combine.
- Spread the wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
- Once the potatoes are in the oven combine the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and the liquid is completely absorbed. Once done, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
- Arrange the cooked quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and your greens of choice in layers on a serving tray (or add to a large bowl). Pour the dressing over the salad then sprinkle the goat's cheese, chopped roasted almonds, cilantro/coriander, and za’atar or dukkah over the top.
- Serve straight away once dressed so the greens don't wilt and the quinoa doesn't become soggy.