A new twist on sweet potatoes

Sweet potato salad with maple vinaigrette

Sweet potato salad with maple vinaigrette

I’m thinking about thanksgiving, oh yes I am! My mind is flipping through my recipes that I love this time of year like a rolodex on high speed. Sweet potatoes are always one of those wonderful foods that is highlighted at thanksgiving that is usually mashed filled with butter and brown sugar with little marshmallows floating on top. Thankfully it has evolved over the years but I suggest taking it one step further, make a salad with it.

Here is an historical twist; there were no sweet potatoes at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Nope, none at all. There isn’t any evidence of this South American native being cultivated in North America till 1648. Another interesting tidbit is the sweet potato and the yam are not the same thing. In fact, they are not even in the same family. The true yam is a GIANT tuber that looks like an elephant’s trunk, grown mostly in Africa. It is still a curiosity in our culinary culture that very few North Americans have ever seen here. So, any sweet potato thingy you see or eat here, is just that, a sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are one of those veggies are nutritional powerhouses. They are chocked full of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vit. C and fiber, along with being a good source of copper, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. The darker the flesh of the potato the more antioxidants are present. They go well in most any dish, so sweet potato away this thanksgiving!

This recipe has been an added Thanksgiving tradition in our family for the last 6-8 years after being introduced to us by Julie Barker, owner and culinary luminary of “Bread and Ocean” and formally of the “Blue Sky Café.” I have tweaked it a bit, but it is pretty close to the original. I highly suggest using arugula only, but mixed greens are also good. It perfectly complements all the flavors of the Thanksgiving meal.

You may prepare the sweet potatoes, mapled pecans, and maple dressing a few days in advance for ease. Keep the sweet potatoes and maple dressing in the fridge till you use and hide the pecans from yourself. Omit the feta if you want a pure paleo side dish.

Hummm, maple pecans...

You will thank me for this salad. I know you will

Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Dressing

10 cups, give or take, of arugula or mixed baby greens
2 cups of roasted sweet potato cubes
¼ to ½ cup of red onion slices
½ cup of mapled pecans, chopped
½ cup of feta cheese, preferably sheep or goat (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the peeled sweet potato into about ½ inch cubes and put in a pan with sides. Spray the top of the sweet potatoes with a olive oil cooking spray then sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Toss well and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring a few times till pierced easily with a fork. Set aside these little jewels to cool.

Place your greens in your most special salad bowl and toss in the sweet potatoes, and the onion. If you wish to dress the salad before serving, now is the time. Sprinkle the pecans and feta cheese over the salad. Save a few whole pecans halves for the top of the salad for that extra eye candy. Sometimes I place the dressing, mapled pecans and feta cheese in their own bowls next to the salad so folks can add these to their own taste. This recipe makes 6 servings.

Here is the salad dressing we live on all winter. It is so good on every salad but particularly shines in this one.

Maple vinaigrette

¼ cup of home made mayo
¼ cup of pure maple syrup
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
¼ cup of oil, preferably a nut oil, like walnut
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme

Put all the ingredients into the blender and let her rip! Process for about 1 minute till well blended.

These mapled pecans are so delicious you will want to make extra or you will eat all of them before you get them to the salad.

mummm maple pecans

mummm maple pecans

Mapled Pecans

1 cup of pecan halves
2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans in a small bowl and drizzle the maple syrup over them and mix well till the syrup is hugging all the pecans in a sweet embrace. Put the pecans in a jelly roll pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and bake about 10 minutes, stirring once, till the maple syrup begins to bubble. Remove from the oven and stir once before they are cool, or they will stick to the pan like you can’t believe.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you, dear readers, and I hope you have a luscious and appreciative holiday.


  1. Patricia Bumgarner says

    another great looking recipe from you as well as more interesting food information! Thank you. I’m also trying to get interested in kale and having a hard time with that.


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