If traditional Potato Salad was in a midlife crisis and its therapist asked, “What would you be if you could be anything in the world,” it might say “Curried Sweet Potato Salad!” It’s distinctive, daring, and delectable, not to mention, attractive!
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews (2 ounces)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves (3 ounces)
1/2 cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (plus extra for garnish)
2 large ribs celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1. Place the 5 dressing ingredients into a blender and set aside so that the cashews can soften.
2. In a soup pot, cover the diced sweet potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until potatoes are cooked through but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water before transferring to a large bowl.
3. Add the spinach, raisins, almonds, celery, and green onions to the bowl of potatoes.
4. Blend the dressing until smooth. Stir the orange zest into the blended dressing (but don’t blend it). Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly but gently, so as not to overly smash the potatoes. The dressing may look like too much, but it will absorb nicely into the potatoes. I like to serve this right away, while the potatoes are still warm and the dressing is creamy, but you can also refrigerate it for later. Optional: garnish with some sliced almonds.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
Potato substitutions: Feel free to use other potato types as well or a mix (yams, Russets, Yukon gold, red). I like to peel my potatoes but leaving the skins on is fine too.
Low-cal dressing: For a lighter dressing, reduce the nuts, or leave them out entirely (and decrease water by 1/4 cup).
Greens variations: If you can’t get your hands on spinach, cooked greens (kale, chard, collards) would also work (you could throw these in with the potatoes toward the end their cooking). Some fresh arugula added in to the salad would also be nice.
Fresh herbs: This salad already has a lot of flavor going on, but feel free to add in some fresh herbs: A 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of chopped basil, parsley or cilantro, or a tablespoon or two of chopped thyme, oregano or tarragon.
Plump your raisins: This is a fine point, but I like to plump my raisins a little before adding them to this salad. It’s not required, but it makes a more refined salad and the raisins get a little sweeter. Just soak the raisins in enough water to cover for 10 to 15 minutes, drain off the water, and add them to the salad. Cranberries would work too, but make sure there is no oil on them.
Above: Interestingly, sweet potatoes and yams are not related; they are two different species of root vegetable. The orange-reddish “yam” and the golden sweet potato (right) that we find in U.S. grocery stores are actually both varieties of sweet potato, but the orange-red ones were dubbed “yams” to distinguish the two. True yams are native to Africa and Asia (left), and are very starchy with dark brown, tree bark-like skin.
Above: Curry powders are a blend of spices, and come in many varieties. I use a basic yellow curry, such as the one above left, that is mild and sweet since I’m not a fan of super spicy foods. And if you’re serving this salad to a group, I would opt for this milder variety. But if you like it hot and spicy, seek out a curry powder that has more of a kick, like a red Thai curry. You can even make your own curry powder blend; just search “curry powder recipes” online. It’s also fun to visit a spice shop and smell all the different types of curries before choosing.
Above: This dish is perfect for when you want a different kind of potato dish around the holidays. It’s especially good served right away when it’s still a bit warm.
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