I’ve been working on a recipe for a robust, vegetarian posole for the past couple of months. The version I finally came up with was so labor-intensive (yet so completely worth every tedious step), that I haven’t had the wherewithal to make it again in order to photograph and share it. Hominy and beans are soaked and boiled for hours. Dried ancho chiles are re-hydrated, peeled, and pureed. Stock is made. Sweet potatoes are roasted. Soup is simmered. Toppings are prepared. Five years later, when you are half dead with fatigue and starvation, posole is finally ready to be devoured.
Hence, this is not a recipe for posole, but rather the happy accident that came out of some leftover ingredients from that project.
I’d been using the leftover ancho chile paste to slather on sweet potatoes which I’d roast in the oven and top with lime juice. The other day, I found myself with some extra cooked quinoa as well, so, inspired by this lovely recipe from Naturally Ella, I tossed it all together into a salad which I topped with what we had around: avocado chunks, pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese.
The tangy-sweet salad, full of protein-rich quinoa and pumpkin seeds, was exactly what I wanted to be eating. So I made a second (huge) batch to share.
Multi-quinoa cooks up light and fluffy, with a bit of crunch from the firmer red and black grains. Soaking it first does away with the bitter outer coating, leaving behind only mild, nutty sweetness. (Though I do hope to try this with sorghum, as per the original recipe.)
We like the salad best when still a little warm, when the goat cheese gets a bit gooey against pillows of spiced and slightly smokey sweet potatoes. Toasted cumin adds robust bass notes, and lime gives it all a lively edge. Avocado season is in full swing in California and our co-op is currently stocking 4 different varieties of the oblong fruits, all locally-grown. Creamy slices give this salad a feeling of decadence, and so does a generous pour of good olive oil. Red onion and cilantro add crunch and freshness, respectively, making this a nourishing one-bowl meal that doesn’t taste like a big helping of deprivation.
(Speaking of deprivation, this space has been shockingly devoid of chocolate as of late. Don’t worry, I’m getting ready to remedy that in a major way.)
We served this at a get-together recently, and it was a huge hit. The flavors just work so nicely together, people can’t help but open their eyes wide and exclaim, “This is good!” (At least, that’s what I do.) Many thanks to Erin for this beautiful recipe!
Keen on quinoa:
Sweet on sweet potatoes:
One year ago:
Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad with Chile and Lime
Adapted from Naturally Ella
We like this salad best when the components are still slightly warm. But the base can also be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 2 or 3 days. The grains and veg will continue soaking in the flavors and moisture from the dressing, so add more lime, salt, and olive oil until the flavors taste bright and poppy again. Do be sure to taste your chile powder to verify its mildness before dumping it on the sweet potatoes, or add a few pinches of cayenne if you want it kickier.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 3/4 pounds sweet potatos (jewel or garnet, about 4 medium)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons mild ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 3/4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons cumin seed
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
leaves from a small bunch cilantro
juice of 1-2 limes
2 large (ripe but firm) avocados
4 ounces goat cheese (or feta, cotija, or queso fresco)
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Scrub the sweet potatoes, trim away the ends, and cut them into 1″ chunks. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, salt, chile powder and paprika, and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer, and roast, flipping the potatoes once or twice, until they are soft and golden in places, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a very fine mesh strainer and place the strainer in a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cool water to cover the quinoa and soak for 5-10 minutes, swishing the quinoa occasionally with you fingers. Drain the quinoa well, and place it in a large saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender with a hint of bite, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff gently with a fork. Dump into a very large bowl.
Toast the cumin in a small, dry skillet over a medium flame, shaking the pan constantly until the cumin smells toasty, 1 minute. Let cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
When the sweet potatoes are done, add them to the bowl with the quinoa. Sprinkle the toasted, ground cumin over, drizzle with the olive oil, add the onion and cilantro and toss to combine. Add enough lime juice to give the quinoa some punch, and more salt if you feel it needs it. Serve the salad topped with avocado slices, crumbled goat cheese, and the pumpkin seeds, drizzling more lime juice and olive oil over the top just before serving.