Healthy, delicious and tasty – my Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad is a great side-dish or light, meat-free meal. It’s fresh, nourishing, perfect for all occasions and can be made ahead of time.
Why we love this recipe:
We love to use quinoa; it is a versatile ingredient and very easy to cook. Packed full of protein, it is a great alternative to rice or couscous. Pronounced “keen-wah”, it is an ancient crop, originally from the Andes. It is from the seed of a plant which is related to chard and spinach.
Many of us have very busy lives but salads such as this, which are quickly and easily prepared, mean we can still eat healthily.
This recipe can be made ahead of time which makes it ideal to prepare in a larger amount for easy entertaining. As well, it is an excellent side dish for most main meals. It also makes a nutritious packed lunch, stored in individual containers to save time on busy mornings.
As well, this healthy, delicious salad is gluten-free and vegan making it suitable for many people who have dietary restrictions.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Quinoa – I have used white quinoa. It is also available in black or red but white has the most delicate flavour. It is also the most tender, cooks the fastest and will be fluffier than the other colours.
Sweet potato – I use golden sweet potato.
Spring onions/scallions – I finely slice the white part and some of the green as well.
Olive oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil for the health benefits and the flavour that it adds. It is the highest quality olive oil available and is at the heart of the much-acclaimed Mediterranean Diet.
Parsley – I prefer the flavour and texture of flat-leaf/continental parsley. However, you could use the curly leaf variety if you prefer.
Pine nuts/pinole – pine nuts have a soft texture and a buttery flavour when raw. They can be lightly toasted in a dry frying pan to add a little crunch.
Water – for cooking the quinoa.
Lemon zest – is a great flavour booster.
Olive oil – extra virgin if possible.
Lemon juice – you will get the best flavour from freshly squeezed juice.
Maple syrup – adds some sweetness to the dressing; you could use honey if you prefer.
Salt and pepper to taste – I use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step by Step Instructions:
Pre-heat your oven to 200 Degrees C (390 F).
- Peel and rinse the sweet potato, carefully cut it in half lengthways then cut slices into half-moon shapes. Line a sheet pan with baking paper and put sweet potato onto the tray. Toss in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes or until just cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Put the quinoa into a fine-meshed sieve and rinse well under cold running water, swishing the quinoa with your hand. Drain the quinoa well. Add water to a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the seeds are tender. After removing the saucepan from the heat, place a clean tea towel or 3 layers of paper towel over the saucepan, place the lid back on and stand 5 minutes. The tea towel/paper towel will absorb excess moisture. Turn the quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Add the quinoa and sweet potato to the bowl. Mix the dressing, and finely chop the spring onion and parsley.
- Add all the ingredients to the quinoa bowl, toss well together and you are ready to serve.
Tips for success and FAQs:
The best way to cook the sweet potato is to roast it. Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness, giving the sweet potato a delicious, slightly caramelised, flavour.
For the best flavour, serve the salad at room temperature. If served cold, the flavours will be dulled. If you are making the salad in advance and storing it in the refrigerator be sure to remove it ahead of time.
Remember to remove the lemon zest before extracting the juice, and take only the yellow part, avoiding the bitter, white pith.
Rinsing helps remove the outside coating of the grain, called saponin, which can cause a slightly bitter taste. The saponin is a naturally occurring chemical which deters insects. However, check the label first, some varieties of quinoa are sold these days with the saponin removed.
Store it in the refrigerator, well covered, for up to four days. The parsley will darken a little over time so to freshen it up add some freshly chopped parsley to serve.
How to customise the Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad:
Quinoa has a mild flavour and can be bland when not well flavoured so it is important to season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The lemon juice and zest further boost the flavour. Adjust the flavours to your taste.
You can customize this Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad to make it your own.
- Instead of parsley, you could use mint or coriander;
- Try it with avocado for colour and creaminess;
- Dried cranberries add a bright, tangy flavour;
- Finely sliced red onion would be good instead of spring onions/scallions;
- Baby spinach or rocket/arugula for extra greens;
- Some bacon crumbled on top would be delicious;
- Boost the protein with cooked chicken or cubes of feta;
- Chickpeas keep it vegetarian.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
We love colourful, flavoursome and delicious salad recipes. Here are some more of our favourites for you to try:
- Sweet and Sour Carrot Salad
- Marinated Tomato Salad
- Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabouli
- Orange, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad
- Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad
- Pumpkin, Cranberry and Almond Salad
- Charred Corn and Black Bean Salad
- Char-grilled Asparagus with Feta and Mint
- Radish, Feta and Cucumber Salad
- Broccoli, Bacon and Cashew Salad
- Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Salad
- Potato Salad with Peas and Mint
- Thai Vermicelli Noodle Salad
- Thai Inspired Prawn Salad
- Chargrilled Zucchini Salad
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
For now, enjoy this delicious Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad, and do let me know your thoughts in the comments!
This post was originally published in January 2019. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 cup (175 g) quinoa – rinsed well See Note 1
- 2 cups (500 ml) water – for cooking the quinoa See Note 2
- 1 large (about 500 g) sweet potato
- 2 spring onions/scallions – finely sliced, the white and some of the green part
- 1 tbsp olive oil See Note 3
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped See Note 4
- 1/4 cup pine nuts/pinoli See Note 5
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
For the Dressing:
- 1 tsp lemon zest See Note 6
- 2 tsp lemon juice – freshly squeezed See Note 6 and 7
- 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 Degrees C (390 F).Peel and rinse the sweet potato, carefully slice it in half lengthways then chop into half-moon shapes about 1 ½ cm/ ½ inch thick.
- Line a sheet pan with baking paper and put the sweet potato on the tray. Toss it in oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread it out so the slices are not overlapping. Roast in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes or until the sweet potato is just cooked.Remove once cooked and set aside.
- Put the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve and rinse well under cold running water, swishing the quinoa with your hand. Drain the quinoa well – See Note 1.
- Pour 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the seeds are tender. When they’re cooked you will notice they have little curly “tails”.(Or follow directions on the packet)
- Remove from the heat, place a clean tea towel or 3 layers of paper towel over the saucepan, place the lid back on and stand 5 minutes. The tea towel/paper towel will absorb excess moisture. Fluff the quinoa with a fork then turn it into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Mix your dressing up and set aside – check you are happy with the balance of flavours and adjust accordingly.Finely chop the spring onion and parsley.
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl, and toss.Serve in a salad bowl or on a platter – See Notes 7 and 8.
- This is the weight of the quinoa before it is cooked. It is important to thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Rinsing helps remove the outside coating of the grain, called saponin, which can cause a slightly bitter taste. The saponin is a naturally occurring chemical which is there to deter insects. Make sure the quinoa is well-drained after rinsing.
- We cook the quinoa by the absorption method, which means that the quinoa will absorb the amount of water used.
- In Australia, the tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. You may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.
- I prefer the flavour and texture of flat-leaf/continental parsley. However, you could use the curly leaf variety if you prefer.
- The pine nuts can be lightly toasted for a few minutes in a dry frying pan if you prefer to add a little crunch. Keep your eye on them, they burn very quickly.
- Adjust the amount of lemon juice and zest to your taste – you may prefer more.
- For the best flavour, it is important to use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Ensure you serve the dish at room temperature, for the best flavour.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on six people enjoying this as a starter or a side dish. Alternatively, it would serve 3-4 people as a more substantial meal.