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 Responses to Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad

  1. glutenfreehappytummy.com June 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    that sounds SO delicious! i love the combination of the sweet potato and pistachio! The creamy and the cruchy — perfect!

  2. Foodie Stuntman June 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    I think a salad is mostly comprised of produce (hot or cold) dressed to add flavor. Am I wrong? Either way, this looks good.

    • Willow June 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      I like that definition ‘mostly comprised of produce’ – but what does that mean for Chicken or Tuna salads? Hmm…

  3. Riley June 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Quinoa makes the best kind of salad! This looks delicious.

  4. Elly McCausland June 27, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    This looks exactly my kind of food! Though I’ve never tried sweet potato with pistachio. I reckon it’d be delicious.

  5. Jen @JuanitasCocina June 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I refuse to be pigeon-holed by meaningless definitions. ;)

    This is gorgeous! What a beautiful SALAD!

  6. Veena Theagarajan June 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I love anything with Quinoa so this is book marked to try also


  7. ally June 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    all my favorite things in one salad? i love you for your inspiration!

  8. Kat June 28, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    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.)

    • Willow June 28, 2012 at 2:39 am #

      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?

  9. Oishii Treats June 28, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Looks amazing!! I wish they would serve this in the chow hall for a salad. not cooking right now is killin me lol.

  10. Carrie's Experimental Kitchen June 28, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    This sounds wonderful! I just started cooking with quinoa recently as my family didn’t care for it. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Ashlae June 29, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I love that you added pistachios to this salad – it looks and sounds delicious. And your photos are so incredible, Willow!

  12. Kristy June 29, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    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!

  13. Courtney J June 29, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    This is going on my short-list of recipes to try ASAP. Looks fantastic. Love quinoa, love sweet potatoes and LOVE pistachios :)

  14. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes June 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    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 :)

    • Willow June 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      Heheh – yeah, that’s my definition, too. Just about anything!

  15. RecipeNewZ June 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Healthy and yummy! Have a great weekend :-)

  16. From Valeries Kitchen July 2, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    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.

    • Willow July 2, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      Thanks! That was part of my making it, as well – besides the sweet potato I had all the ingredients I needed!

  17. herbivoresheaven July 2, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    This looks really colourful and healthy, yum!

  18. Kimberly (Unrivaledkitch) July 2, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    this looks so good. I love all these things together. the photos are stunning :) thanks for sharing

  19. Andy July 6, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I have made this recipe twice now, and love it! thanks :)

    • Willow July 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Wonderful, I’m so glad you like it!

  20. shannon @ a periodic table July 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    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!

  21. Anonymous July 14, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    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! :)

  22. Anonymous October 15, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    I made this with cous cous instead of quinua and it was just as good!!

    • Willow October 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Great, I’m glad you liked it!

  23. themidnightkitchen February 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    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 :)

  24. Anonymous April 14, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    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!

    • Willow April 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Wonderful! I’m glad you like it. :)

  25. Anonymous December 10, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    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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