Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad

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(Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa – recipe in post)

I have a question… what qualifies as a salad? From chicken, tuna, and potato salads, all the way to grain, bean, and fruit salads – there are so many options besides the basic leafy greens. Does it have to be cold? No. There are plenty of warm salads, like this one. Does it have to be healthy? Not really. Heavy dressings and extras like cheese, bacon, or other add-ons are common salad toppers. So what is it that makes a salad a salad? Discuss in the comments below, and in the meantime, I’m calling this dish a salad.
I’ve wanted to use sweet potato and pistachio together ever since I saw the two paired on the cover of a magazine. That was months ago, and the idea has been floating around in my head ever since – I don’t use sweet potatoes very often, even though I adore them, because The Boyfriend isn’t a fan. It’s one of our few standing disagreements, and every now and then I just have to go ahead and ignore him. Sweet potatoes are incredible, not to mention incredibly healthy.
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Since I was already looking at two of my favorite super foods (sweet potato and pistachios) it seemed only fitting to bring them together with quinoa. This salad is so full of nutrition, it made a great energy booster post-run. Lots of protein, healthy fats, and carbs to help refuel and keep you full, not to mention vitamins and minerals to keep the body running smoothly. I need more meals like this, please and thank you!
This recipe was delicious as it was, but not quite as nutty as I had hoped. Next time I might try adding the pistachios a little earlier, to help develop that flavor. Feel free to play around, or adapt the recipe to your liking.
Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad
Serves 2  – vegan, gluten-free
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock (or water)
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or parsley)
1/2 cup pistachios, roasted/salted/shelled, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish)
Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
Preheat oven to 375f.
Toss cubed sweet potato with 1-2 TBSP olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Spread in an single layer on a foil covered baking sheet, and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Shake or stir the pan once during cooking.
In a small pan over medium heat, saute garlic in 1 TBSP olive oil until golden and fragrant. Rinse the quinoa under cold water, drain, then add to the pan. Add the vegetable broth, coriander, and cumin, and bring to a boil*. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let cook 12-15 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from heat, and let stand for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid, and fluff quinoa with a fork.
Stir in chopped cilantro, pistachios, and the sweet potato. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Serve.
*Next time I might try adding the chopped pistachios here, so their flavor permeates the rest of the dish more.
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33 thoughts on “Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad

  1. Kat

    I love the pistachio and sweet potato combo and the colors in this recipe. You’re right – there are so many things called salads, from stuff you put in sandwiches (like egg salad), to something you have before a meal (leafy green salad), to something you can have with your meal as a side (potato salad). I think a salad can therefore be defined, in a crude way as a bunch of things thrown together and seasoned? (Now that I think about it, I’ve inadvertently been making nothing but salads this month too.)

    1. Willow

      Yes! “A bunch of things thrown together and seasoned” – I think that’s our winning definition. I was just remembering seeing a ‘ham’ salad (which resembled egg salad, only primarily composed of ham) at a deli a few weeks back, and thinking… maybe they call it a salad because they don’t want to call it ‘mush’. I suppose the term ‘salad’ can be used for most anything, huh?

  2. Kristy

    I don’t know what the exact definition of a salad is, but this is totally my type! Sweet potatoes and pistachios? Heck, yeah! Sign me up!

  3. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

    Such a beautiful dish Willow – I love the addition of cumin and coriander, it sounds so warming and comforting.

    Hmmm what do I consider a salad to be? What a great question! I really have no idea, I typically call anything served in a bowl with a grain & small pasta and veggies tossed with a dressing or seasoned spices a salad- but that is pretty broad – okay I really wasn’t much help :)

  4. From Valeries Kitchen

    This looks so substantial and comforting but super healthy. What’s weird (sort of) is that I have almost everything I need to make it! I bought a bag of shelled pistachios a while back and haven’t done anything with them. Very nice combo Willow.

  5. shannon @ a periodic table

    willow: this looks crazy delicious AND SO HEALTHY! i love sweet potatoes, and also pistachios, but have never put them together in a dish because i wouldn’t know the first thing about how that would go. Now i do. this is going on my “things i make to avoid eating cookies” list. yay!

  6. Anonymous

    Hi This was the first vegan recipe I ever tried. I didn’t have cumin and only had coriander seeds so I used those. This is definitely good reheated, so I would double or triple the recipe next time. Also I got everything except for the EVOO I already had at Gelsons and it was a bit steep at $27. So I would buy the food at a cheaper place like trader joes or costco next time! :)

  7. themidnightkitchen

    I just made this to have a little clear out of ingredients. I made it without the cilantro or pistachios, but at the very end mixed in some chopped walnuts, dates, and pumpkin seeds and avocado. Very tasty! Thanks for the recipe :)

  8. Anonymous

    i am about to make this for the SECOND time… it’s looking like this is going to make it into our regular meal rotation :) so tasty and easy!

  9. Anonymous

    Yum yum! Just what I was looking for to make in batch for lunch this week! Healthy but very hearty and filling! Thank you x


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