Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

As the weather starts to cool, the fall flavors are introduced with avengeance. Suddenly it’s pumpkin this and spiced that, baked goods everywhere and soups filling my Pinterest feed. As much as I love all of these things, this year I’m not quite ready to dive head first in to traditional autumn goods, and also my oven is broken so I couldn’t even if I wanted to. The mountain west poses an added challenge as September and October can intermittently still be quite warm. I’ve mentioned this before, but it usually inspires me to meal prep dishes that can be enjoyed either warm or chilled, such that I can tailor it according to the day’s weather.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

A couple of years ago I created an arugula sweet potato salad that I still love. It invites the coziness of cinnamon lightly sweetened with maple syrup to a healthier form, and is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. However, looking to spice things up a bit I decided to take that idea and give it a more south of the border twist.

Roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and red onions are stirred in with a generous helping of black beans, corn, and quinoa. Vegan by nature, it can be dressed up with cheese or meat if you like. Goat cheese is my personal preference (shocking) since the creaminess blends so nicely with the smokey dressing.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

As always, this one is easy to tailor to your personal spice levels. Leave it as is for a relatively mild experience, or pile on the spices for some extra heat. The dressing is the easiest place to up the spices but if you know you’re a spice lover, add extra to the roasting process too.

This works great as an entree or a side dish, served atop fresh greens for some color and extra freshness. Add lots of greens for a more traditional salad, or use fewer for more of a Buddha bowl style meal. Either way, this is an easy recipe that’s great for meal prepping, serving a crowd, or taking to a potluck. Serve it chilled in the summer or warm in the winter and it’s sure to be a hit. For potluck option, I’d recommend tossing the quinoa mixture with the greens ahead of time since it will be easier for people to serve themselves.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Have more leftovers than you want? Top a generous scoop with a fried or poached egg and a drizzle of dressing for a fun and healthy breakfast! The filling also works nicely for stuffed peppers, lettuce wraps, or burritos if you’re looking for ways to switch it up a little.

Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground chilis, divided (I used pasilla)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups water (or broth)

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
12 oz (or more) leafy greens

Spicy Smoked Balsamic Dressing (below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, bell pepper, onion, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, salt, oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir until veggies are well coated.
  3. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine quinoa, water, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp paprika. Cook quinoa as directed on your package.
  5. When veggies and quinoa are both cooked, return to your large bowl and gently stir in black beans and corn until evenly distributed.
  6. Either serve atop fresh greens or stir them in too.
  7. Serve hot or chilled, drizzled with dressing and topped with cheese, if desired.

Smoked Balsamic Dressing {{Baking Bytes}}

Smokey and spicy and just a little sweet, this dressing is excellent by itself to use for almost any salad, bowl, or wrap that you can dream up. The smoked balsamic vinegar from Olivelle is one of my favorites; already reminiscent of barbecue sauce, adding the garlic oil and some extra spices gives it a little kick. If you are looking for a little sweeter variety, a bit of maple syrup blends in nicely.

Spicy Smoked Balsamic Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

3 oz Olivelle caramelized garlic olive oil1
1 1/2 oz Olivelle smoked balsamic vinegar1
1 – 2 tsp ground chilis
1/2 tsp paprika (smoked or regular)
1 – 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Whisk or shake vigorously to combine.
  2. Taste and adjust spices or sweetness as necessary.

Notes

I highly recommend Olivelle products and they have an online store if you don’t have a sister store nearby. However, if you must you can substitute regular extra virgin olive oil and 1-2 minced garlic cloves or 1/2 – 1 teaspoons garlic powder, and/or regular barrel aged balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon or two of barbecue sauce.

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Chocolate Chili Ice Cream

[Welcome again to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Each year as I add to my repertoire of ice cream flavors, I get bolder with the non-traditional palates and pairings in my  concoctions. However, I also make a point to include one or two flavors that are more along the lines of “normal” for my less-adventurous fans. This is one of those more common recipes.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

“Mexican” or “Aztec” ice cream and hot chocolate are fairly common, but typically they are also pretty mild. Heavy on the chocolate with a vague notion of spice in there. As someone with a pretty low spice tolerance, I can only imagine that those with a higher spice preference are even more bored with these flavors. For this one, I was inspired by a fantastic legitimately spicy hot chocolate from Summit Spice & Tea Company my equally fantastic but probably less spicy aunt sent to me for Christmas: dark chocolate and with a kick – it was a beautiful match.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Modifying the same recipe I used for last year’s Chocolate Merlot adventure, I set off to create an actually spicy ice cream. Given how much I loved the Maple Chipotle from two years prior, I was certain this adventure would be a grand one.

My first attempt was a bit mild for what I was going for (although still delicious) so I heavily exaggerated the spices on my next attempt. Honestly it was a bit much for me (I told you my tolerance is low) but my friends loved it and thought it was perfect. Rich dark chocolate smoothly combined with the slow-burn of ground chilis, it’s one of those flavors where the heat hits you late in the spoonful rather than right away. If you find your batch to be too strong, tone it down with a nice fudgy brownie and/or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. I promise it’ll be amazing.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Take your next taco Tuesday to a whole new level with the perfect dessert: spicy chocolate ice cream!

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream 

Adapted from Molly Moon
Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp ground aji amarillo pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 oz dark (~70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup egg  substitute
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat half and half, whipping cream, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just coming to a simmer.
  3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and whisk vigorously until there are no chocolate flecks. If you are having trouble getting it completely smooth, an immersion blender works great, or you can pour it into a regular blender after a brief cooling period.
  4. Let cool on the counter about 10 minutes, then whisk in egg substitute and vanilla.
  5. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  7. Enjoy solo or with a fudgy dark chocolate brownie for an extra decadent dessert.

Notes

1 For reference, 1/2 tsp of each is reasonably mild, 1 tsp of each is a bit much for me but perfect for my spicier-minded friends; adjust to your liking. Feel free to use all cayenne as well (or any other chili pepper)!