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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Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Well folks we’ve yet again reached the last week of National Ice Cream Month. So far we’ve played with whiskey, chili peppers, and mint, and this week we venture further off the beaten path with some thoroughly nontraditional ice cream flavors.

If you’re even a vaguely consistent reader, you’ll be well aware of my love affairs with goat cheese and Olivelle products. I use both liberally in my salads, scrambles, and various entrees, sneaking them in whenever possible. M and I go through copious amounts of chévre, so fingers crossed Costco never stops carrying it. The Kirkland brand goat cheese is not only delicious but also extremely affordable. If you have a Costco nearby, definitely give it a try.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}For this week, the pièce de résistance if you will, I combined several of my favorite savory items into a brand new dessert adventure. This is one of those thoughts I had where I wasn’t sure if the end result would be spectacular or just strange. Fortunately for me, and subsequently all of you, spectacular was the general consensus.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step one: blackberry. Starting with a tried-and-true recipe from my trusty ice cream cookbook, I borrowed the blackberry sauce from a recipe by Molly Moon. It’s just a typical blackberry compote but I trusted her to know how much of everything to use. I liked that she suggested straining out only half the pulp, which leaves the lovely texture without overwhelming you with seeds.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step two: chévre ice cream. Inspired by the delicious blueberry cheesecake ice cream from a couple of years ago, goat cheese ice cream seemed like the obvious 2018 twist. The recipes online varied greatly in the amount used, but I took a gamble on throwing a full eight ounces in the batch and was duly rewarded.

Combined into one delightful concoction, the tart but sweet blackberries blend perfectly with the tangy goat cheese. Somehow neither flavor overpowers the other but instead becomes one glorious experience: creamy, fruity, and tangy in every mouthful.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}The last addition was a bit of risk, honestly, but oh so worth it. Olivelle carries several dessert vinegars, the chocolate balsamic being one of my favorites. I often drizzle it over a sliced banana or vanilla ice cream for dessert, and it’s also a delightful addition to brownies or chocolate cake. With the idea that it would be a slightly more sophisticated mix-in than standard chocolate sauce, I decided to give it a chance.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Although M didn’t completely agree1, my other taste testers thought it was one of the most phenomenal ice creams they’ve ever had, and I think it’s easily one of the top five flavors I’ve ever made (not that I’m biased.) The blackberry goat cheese ice cream is truly fantastic on its own, but the balsamic addition adds a depth of flavor and a hint of chocolate without overwhelming anything else.

A swirl or a drizzle (or both) of balsamic vinegar takes this ice cream up several levels in both uniqueness and amazingness, and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous I truly hope you give it a try! It’s admittedly a bit more time-consuming with the various steps, and you might have to wait for an order of chocolate balsamic vinegar to arrive (although definitely check if any of your local stores are a sister of Olivelle – they are all over the nation), but I promise it is oh so worth it.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you enjoyed the serious and found at least one new flavor to add to your repertoire. If you give one a try, be sure and share how it went!

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Adapted from Molly Moon‘s Blackberry Sage Ice Cream
Makes 6+ cups

Ingredients

Blackberry Sauce
12 oz blackberries (about 3 cups)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar2

8 oz chévre (goat cheese)3

1 recipe blackberry sauce (above)
1/2 cup egg substitute

1/4 – 1/2 cup Olivelle chocolate balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1 cup sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly. Mash the berries and bring to a light boil. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the berry pulp to retrieve as much of the juice as possible. Scoop about half of the pulp back into the juice, and stir to combine. (The remaining pulp can be tossed, but it is delicious stirred into plain Greek yogurt! Keeps well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.)
  4. Chill the blackberry sauce completely, or until ready to use.
  5. Place the goat cheese  in medium a heatproof bowl.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, half and half, and remaining sugar to a light simmer.
  7. When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture over the goat cheese and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth – it will be somewhat thick.
  8. Chill the cream mixture completely, or until ready to use. Place a lidded freezer-safe bowl in the freezer to chill.
  9. When everything is completely chilled, whisk the blackberry sauce and 1/2 cup egg substitute into the cream – mixture will be fairly thick.
  10. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  11. Retrieve your bowl from the freezer and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons chocolate balsamic vinegar.
  12. Gently add about 1/4 of the ice cream mixture, and drizzle with another 1-2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Repeat with remaining ice cream (you may not use all the vinegar).
  13. Return to the freezer until completely firm, or overnight.
  14. Serve solo, with a fudgy chocolate brownie, or an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Notes

He thought the ice cream itself was “pretty good”, he just didn’t care for the vinegar aspect. He suggested regular chocolate sauce, which is definitely an option you can utilize too.

I used a half cup, but I think with all the mix-ins 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup might be plenty, and I intend to reduce it next time. Adjust according to how sweet you like your ice cream and how much you love goat cheese. Alternatively, I think honey would make a great substitute here!

If you are not a huge goat cheese lover, you can reduce this amount to six or even four ounces, but I personally loved the tanginess of having all eight ounces in there. Anti-chévre completely? Feel free to sub cream cheese for a more cheesecake like experience.

If you are skeptical but typically like balsamic vinegars, I highly encourage you to try it! Error on the side of too little; you can always drizzle more on top later. If you think this is the grossest sounding thing you have ever heard, either you’ve never tasted Olivelle’s balsamic vinegars or you just aren’t a vinegar person. It’s okay, we can still be friends. Feel free to substitute regular chocolate sauce instead (as M suggested), but know that the vinegar adds a truly unique flavor that will definitely be lost.