This recipe makes an ab fab winter salad of roots, greens, & nuts — a very versatile all-in-one side for any cold night or pretty enough for a special occasion. It could even be a stand-alone dinner, depending on your tastes and how much bacon you add. 😉 Warm Sweet Potato Spinach Salad is even paleo if you swing that way. It could be vegan, and/or a great Meatless Mondays main. Like I said…super variable. A solid outline — you fill in the blanks and make it work for you!
At the start it’s a sweet potato & spinach salad, but in the end you’ll see you could choose practically any root, any green, any nuts, any tasty meaty bits, and any other add-ons that please your palate. Plenty of ideas and examples follow the recipe, so read on. Start with this base recipe, then switch it up next time with whatever you like or have on hand and…Enjoy.
- 3 T cider vinegar
- 3 T maple syrup
- 2 t Dijon or whole grain brown mustard
- 3 T olive oil
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cube-ish pieces*
- 1 large red onion sliced*
- 3-5 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch-ish bits* (optional)
- 1 t thyme
- 10 oz fresh spinach, chopped*
- 1/2 cup nuts toasted*
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- Salt & Pepper
- *all asterisked ingredients are variable - choose the potato/onion/nut that you like best, have on hand, or is on sale!
- t=teaspoon T=Tablespoon
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, and 2 T of the olive oil.
- Spread the sweet potatoes, onion, & bacon on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, & pepper. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil - toss to coat.
- Roast 45 minutes, stirring half way through.
- Remove from oven, spoon into a big serving bowl. Add spinach and nuts, toss with dressing.
Did you get that you can switch up the main components?
Pick a Root: Sweet Potatoes are listed in the recipe, but go ahead and use russet or a combo of any potatoes that are looking like they are going to take root in your cellar…not that you have tuber issues though, since you’ve undoubtedly already followed Lacy’s handy DIY guide to root cellars. If you look closely at the pic you’ll notice I added a regular old (and I mean old) potato to the mix. Try beets instead, or a beet/sweet potato combination. Butternut or acorn squash should/could also work here. It is a rustic salad, so make up your own favorite combo of flavors and ingredients — or go with what organic veg is on sale this week.
Pick a Green: Spinach, fresh or even thawed-and-squeezed frozen spinach would work. Beet greens maybe instead? Kale possibly? Yum. Throw heartier & hardier greens in the oven for the last 5-10 minutes of roasting if you like them more cooked than raw.
Pick a Nut: I used toasted slivered almonds just because I bought too many for another recipe. You could do walnuts, pine nuts, sliced almonds, etc. Or, skip the nuts all together to make it nut-free!
Pick an Onion: I liked red, but I had red onion on hand. You could use white, yellow, or maybe even halved shallots, or those little tiny pearl onions.
Pick a Protein (flavor booster): Bacon is my go-to (I keep several slabs in the freezer so it is easy to cut off as big or small a hunk as I like; by cutting across the frozen strips you get nice little bacon rectangles perfect for adding to sooooo many recipes), but you could do ham cubes or sausage crumbles (precook these in a pan on the stove then add at the end). Or, skip this bit-o-meat and make it vegetarian.
Best of all: If you plan ahead, you can throw a protein in the oven that also roasts at 400. I cooked a small rack of lamb during the last half of the tater roasting. Time it right and you’ll have a juicy meat main and a gorgeous warm salad/side all done at the same time. I grabbed a few 400 degree recipes from my friend Martha and linked them below.
For all our future reference, Martha lets you search by oven temp! For example: “roast chicken 400 degrees.” It’s a pretty neat trick for making the most of your oven by pairing recipes that share a temp and could share an oven (adding “400 degrees” to the search didn’t guarantee 400 degree results, but it seemed to be roughly 85% accurate—enough to make it a worthwhile shortcut). A couple links of sausage would roast alongside the potatoes really well and be a super-easy protein/main…
Sage and Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Emeril’s Orange and Cumin Pork Loin
My MIL sent me the inspiration for this recipe—dontcha love those little clippings you get in the mail from your Mom, Dad, Grandma, or MIL? Little thoughtful love notes. They look a lot different nowadays when I send them to friends & fam digitally via fb or email, but the ‘thinking of you!’ sentiment is just the same.
Inspire someone you love to make a tasty winter salad this week! Send this link & let them know you’re thinking of them. (You can use the handy-dandy buttons at the top!)
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