Today’s salad is a great example of how recycling a recipe—keeping it intact, but with a few key tweaks—can pay off. It’s based off of my mustardy lentil sweet potato salad, which isn’t a green leafy salad so much as a spread of sorts, in the same way that chicken salad and egg salad are salads. I love that recipe. And it happens to be one of the more popular recipes on this blog.
I make that salad often enough to have noticed some of my own tendencies in preparing and serving it. I often serve it with toast, but I serve it over a bed of greens a lot, too, and often a side of crackers to help me scoop everything up. I like the addition of greens, especially arugula; it gives the salad some peppery brightness and crunch. I like it with other greens, too, including baby spinach and chopped romaine.
So lately, I’ve been experimenting with transforming this salad into more of a leafy salad. And I’ve been eating and enjoying it regularly enough that I figured it was worth sharing the reimagined recipe.
What I love here is that the greens give the salad lightness and freshness, but it retains its heartiness and heft. It’s earthy and substantial enough to be a winter salad, too, and since sweet potatoes are available for me year round, I’ll enjoy it in every season.
I also love that that the salad is good for serving with, or on toast, because when don’t I want an excuse to bake some bread? I usually make a full batch of the salad, store the leftovers (they keep pretty well for 2 days), and serve it with a slice of homemade bread or a couple whole grain crackers, if for no other reason than to scoop everything on the plate up.
The other new addition here is cherry tomatoes, which add a lovely bite of sweet juiciness. And I’ll take any opportunity at all to eat more tomatoes when they’re in season, which they finally are. Without further ado, the new-ish recipe.
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, such as safflower, grapeseed, or refined avocado
- 2 medium or large sweet potatoes, cubed (about 3/4 inch)
- 1/2 cup brown, green, or black lentils or 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (1 can, drained and rinsed)
- 4 cups baby arugula or roughly chopped arugula, loosely packed
- 1 cup halved or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the cubed sweet potato in oil and place them on the baking sheet. Transfer the sheet to the oven. Roast the sweet potatoes for 35-40 minutes, stirring once halfway through, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and crispy at the edges.
- While the potatoes roast, bring a pot of water to boil. Add the lentils and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain the lentils. (If you're using pre-cooked/canned lentils, you can skip this step.)
- Whisk together the tahini, water, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and salt.
- Place the roasted sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, tomatoes, and arugula into a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing. Toss well to combine. Taste the salad and add a pinch of salt if desired and black pepper to taste. Serve the recipe on its own or with whole grain toast or crackers.
In years past, I’ve felt that writing about food means constantly challenging myself to try, and post about, new combinations and new recipe concepts. This was a pretty good assumption in the past, especially since I started writing about food as a person who still had a lot of fear foods and unexplored culinary territories thanks to my eating disorder history.
Nowadays, as a recovered person with a solid love of food and a busy schedule, I appreciate echoes: recipes that can be reinvented in lots of ways, favorite combinations that I indulge whenever the craving hits. And I recognize how much of the joy of cooking can be found in nuances, in little adjustments between and among well-loved things.
I hope you’ll find something to love in the salad, too. It’s a little more time consuming than other salads I’ve been making this year, but the payoff is good.
Happy Tuesday, and I’ll be back around later this week with a satisfying new bowl!