Looking for an alternative to the basic potato salad? Or maybe a new Thanksgiving or holiday side dish which doesn’t need to compete for oven time? This cold sweet potato salad is versatile enough to be enjoyed at a picnic in the summer or to take a place on the holiday table. I think that’s the sort of side dish we all need in our lives!
This sweet potato salad is all about my New England roots. In fact, you could call it a New England Harvest Salad!
Now, it’s not all sourced locally, since we don’t have lemons growing here. 🙂 But the sweet potatoes and red onions? Bought those at the farmer’s market. The parsley I picked myself just outside my door. New England is known for their maple syrup. I even live in a town with cranberry bogs!
Oh, and the goat cheese?
Now that I’m thinking about local ingredients and cranberry bogs, I’m reminded of the Cranberry Harvest Festival. We’ve been several times and it’s always fun. I hope we can make this year! There are several cranberry harvest festivals in the area, but that one is our favorite.
With all these New England ingredients, it was natural for me to put all these flavors together. 🙂
Growing up, sweet potatoes were eaten in their jackets after being roasted in the oven or microwave. Dotted with some butter or maybe brown sugar. This is totally an excellent way to have a sweet potato, but they are much more versatile than that. You can make Mashed Sweet Potatoes (yum!), or Bourbon Sweet Potato PIE (double yum), waffles and Sweet Potato Pancakes, use them for tempura, whip up a quick bread, simmer a soup, and so much more.
Like cold sweet potato salad!
How to Make Cold Sweet Potato Salad
First thing you are going to need to do is to steam the sweet potatoes. To cook the sweet potatoes, I prefer to steam them. Steaming keeps their nutrients where they belong and keeps the cubes of potato intact. Sweet potatoes are, in my experience, much more likely to fall apart if you simmer them in water.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into about a 1-inch dice. Then set up your steamer and, once the water is boiling, add the top bit with the sweet potatoes and cover. Cook them until they are soft and easily pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes.
Then transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and let them cool a bit. This a good to prep the rest of the ingredients!
Once your potatoes have cooled down to warm, whisk together the dressing and toss it with the potatoes. Let the dressed potatoes finish cooling. This way they will soak up the dressing.
Now add the goat cheese, nuts, onions, and cranberries. Toss to combine and top with the chopped herbs.
Tip: If raw onions are a bit too strong for you, try marinating them in the dressing for about 10-15 minutes before pouring the dressing over the sweet potatoes. This will soften their bite.
How to Buy Sweet Potatoes
For this salad, you want a moist sweet potato with dense flesh and lots of flavor. You just need to keep a few bits of advice in mind and you’ll soon be on your way to cold sweet potato salad heaven.
- Smaller sweet potatoes are sweeter and creamier than large potatoes.
- Look for potatoes with a more smooth and unblemished skin.
- The sweet potatoes should be firm, with no cuts in the flesh.
- The deeper the skin the sweeter and moister the potato.
Just remember: small potatoes, firm and smooth, and a good deep color! These are great tips for any recipe using sweet potatoes where you want a deep, rich sweet potato flavor. (If you’re looking for something closer to a russet, go for large, light-skinned sweet potatoes. They’ll be starchier and less sweet.)
Other Great Summer/Fall Salad Recipes:
- Potato Salad with Olives and Capers
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Ricotta Salata
- Potato and Green Bean Salad Nicoise
- Pecan, Blue Cheese and Apple Salad
And, though my pictures show whole leaves of rosemary, don’t do that. It looks pretty and gives everyone the visual of ‘there is rosemary in there!’ but it can be a bit too much rosemary at once. Parsley is more forgiving. Big leaves, little bits, it’s all good.
If you try my recipe for Cold Sweet Potato Salad, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
-Happy Eating, Annemarie
Cold Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Mustard Maple Dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Add about 2 inches of water to the bottom of your steamer. When it comes to a boil, add the potatoes to the top and steam for 7-9 minutes. Take the potatoes off the heat and transfer them to a large serving bowl. Cool the potatoes until just warm, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the warm potatoes and let them finish cooling with the dressing.
- Add the onion, pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese to the serving bowl and gently mix them in. Sprinkle the rosemary and parsley over the top.
- Toasting pecans: To toast the pecans, bake for 5 minutes at 350F.
- Mellowing the Onions: Marinate them in the dressing for about 15 minutes to soften their flavor.
- Make ahead: The salad is best eaten soon after assembling it. If you want to make it ahead, cook the sweet potatoes and mix them with the dressing. Then prep the rest of the ingredients, but hold them separate, and toss it all together before serving.