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.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles

This recipe has been a long time coming – I’ve actually made it three times this summer with the intent to photograph and post it, but each time the sun was being temperamental and the pictures just came out terrible. Fourth time’s the charm in getting at least moderately passable photos, so you finally get to enjoy this delight.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Many moons ago when I was still in college, a friend regularly served this dish at potlucks and her house, and it was always a favorite of mine. Al dente spaghetti and a lightly spiced cashew sauce came together in a dish served equally well cold as it did warm. I made it semi-regularly throughout my college career and typically enjoyed it straight from the fridge. Versatile in its uses from lunch to dinner to side, it’s a great dish to have in your repertoire.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Amusingly, I all but forgot about this recipe for like five years until I was cleaning up my Facebook “notes” and came across it again. My current love affair with my spiralizer and lower carb inclinations inspired me to use this sauce with zoodles rather than the called-for pasta. A couple of light tweaks later, and I now have a new favorite side dish and another fantastic meal prep option for my work lunches.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Most of the active time involved here is with slicing the veggies, but you can easily do that in advance and store everything in the fridge. Likewise, the sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. It’s a delicious way to use an abundance of zucchini and is a definite crowd pleaser since it’s both vegan and gluten-free (watch your sauce ingredient labels to be sure). It’s also more interesting than your typical salad but still a healthy veggie side. I nearly always bring a vegetable to potlucks (unless I’m requested to bring dessert) to ensure there’s healthy option alongside the numerous starches sure to grace the table.

The one caveat with taking it to potlucks is that I recommend not mixing it till you get there. Zucchini releases a lot of water and it has a tendency to get soupy after not too long. This does not affect the flavor in the slightest – just makes it a bit messier to serve and eat. If desired (I never do), you can mitigate this by salting your zucchini and setting it in a strainer for about 20 minutes, then rinsing thoroughly and using a cloth to squeeze any excess water from the zoodles. Follow directions as normal after that.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

For a tasty lunch, add your protein of choice. Steak or chicken is my personal preference, but eggs (I’d do fried, poached or soft boiled) or a vegan option like chickpeas or tempeh would go beautifully as well. Pick your favorite and include that to bring it up to a full entrée. Alternatively, if you think I’m crazy for preferring zucchini instead of spaghetti, you can make the original by cooking a pound of spaghetti to al dente and thinning the sauce with some pasta water. (A mix of spaghetti and zoodles would also be great! I would toss with the zucchini and let it rest for about 5 minutes, then fold in the spaghetti. You likely will not need to add any additional water if you are using zucchini at all.)

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe does not keep particularly well after it’s been mixed, so plan to eat it all or drain as much of the sauce as possible before storing the rest of it. (Excess sauce is great as a salad dressing, on breakfast bowls, or for dipping a wrap.) If you’re still in search of a Labor Day BBQ contribution, you can stop looking now.

Note: I recently discovered the Toasted Sesame oil at Olivelle and basically fell in love. It has a much more prominent sesame flavor which blends really nicely in this sauce. However, it’s plenty delicious with your run of the mill sesame oil, so feel free to substitute that.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles

Adapted from epicurious
Serves 4 (entrée1) to 8 (side dish)

Ingredients

Sauce
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
2-3 garlic cloves (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/4 cup Olivelle Toasted Sesame oil (or regular sesame oil)
2 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce,  to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes, to taste

3-4 medium zucchini, spiralized 3mm (6-8 cups, but I never measure too hard)
1 small cucumber, spiralized flat
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (I like red or orange best)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

garnishes: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews, sesame seeds, additional red pepper flakes, protein of choice

Directions

  1. Purée sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined and there are no large chunks of cashew or garlic. Taste and blend in additional red pepper flakes, if desired. (Sauce can be made in advance2 and refrigerated until ready to use.)
  2. In a large bowl, toss zoodles with about 3/4 of the sauce.
  3. Add remainder of sauce, onion, bell pepper, and cucumber, and toss to combine.
  4. Garnish as desired and serve promptly.

Notes

For a more filling entrée, include your protein of choice: keep it vegan with chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh, include poached or boiled eggs if ovo vegetarian is more your thing, or appease the omnivores with thinly sliced steak or chicken. Add in your choice with the veggies in step 3.

This recipe works great for meal prep: Portion your produce into a 4-cup bowl, and refrigerate until ready to eat. Top with 3-4 tablespoons of sauce, microwave for about 30 seconds, then gently toss until coated. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

To use this sauce without zoodles, thin it with water to your desired consistency. Toss with pasta, use as a salad dressing, or drizzle over breakfast bowls to your heart’s content.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad

Happy May, friends! With the weather (hopefully) starting to warm up and Mother’s Day just around the corner, I have a lovely citrus quinoa salad to share with you. It is light but filling, and complements a multitude of protein choices for any dietary restrictions.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad with Halibut {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired in part by my lemon poppyseed breakfast quinoa as well as a delicious salad at The Cafe in Iowa, this recipe works equally well as a side and as an entrée, in addition to being delightful both warm or cold. Head on over to my guest post at Jenna Gorham Nutrition to check it out!

Chickpea Coconut Curry

I don’t know about you guys, but Montana just got some Serious Winter Weather over the past couple of weeks. I had several runs below zero or in moderate blizzards, and I must say it was a blast. I love to have some properly cold runs to remember when the summer heat gets unbearable. There’s just something about a run where your eyelashes frost over to make you feel like a total badass.

IMG_E5953

Last year during Meatless March, I was forced to discover a new entree at a go-to local Thai restaurant. My previous favorites all centered around meat and rather than try to make them vegetarian, I opted to just choose an inherently vegetarian meal. In this way, I discovered the yellow curry with fried tofu is quite delightful, and have even ordered it of my own volition since.

Chickpea Coconut Curry {{Baking Bytes}}

I saw this tasty looking recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb on Pinterest, and knew it’d be a great addition to my lunch and dinner repertoire. Since I nearly always make vegetarian lunches for myself, I opted to tailor this to fit. I increased the portions a bit and substituted chickpeas for chicken, and ended up with a wonderful vegan dish that is great for the chilly months.

Chickpea Coconut Curry {{Baking Bytes}}

I keep my curries pretty mild, as I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to spice, but by all means up the ante with additional cayenne or a bit of red curry paste. This dish is warming both in flavor and temperature, and very filling to boot. It also reheats very well which makes it ideal for leftovers or meal prepping. I like to serve mine with a few salt and pepper cashews and a scoop of jasmine rice.

Chickpea Coconut Curry {{Baking Bytes}}

My not-so-secret love affair with sweet potatoes inspired me to use them here, and I think they blend beautifully with the yellow curry and coconut flavors. However, M meal-prepped his own carnivorous version alongside mine, making use of red potatoes and steak, and his dish was excellent as well. It’s a great way to use up whichever vegetables you have laying around even if you don’t have the same ones I used.

Chickpea Coconut Curry {{Baking Bytes}}

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 Tbsp (garlic) olive oil
3 carrots, grated
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, diced2
1 medium onion, diced

4 cups vegetable broth
3-4 Tbsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (to taste)
1/2 tsp salt

1 or 2 (14.5 oz) cans full-fat coconut milk
1 small zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup cornstarch
6 Tbsp cold water

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, peppers, potato, and onion, and sauté until onions are softened and translucent.
  3. Stir in 3 Tbsp curry powder, broth, and remaining spices; bring to a boil and then simmer 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Add zucchini, chickpeas, and one can of coconut milk, and stir until combined. Taste, and add additional spices or coconut milk if preferred.
  5. If a thicker consistency is desired, whisk together cornstarch and cold water, then stream into pot. Return to a boil, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Simmer gently until ready to serve. Top with a scoop of rice, cashews, and/or freshly ground pepper.

Notes

I like to use one each red and green for extra color.
Also delicious with a regular or red potato, if you prefer.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Cold weather means warm soup, and warm soup calls for warm breads. I love a hearty soup, stew, or chili when the cold days hit, and I always take the opportunity to make a bread side to go with it. Beer bread and cornbread are my go-to options, but after seeing this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to set those aside and give these a try.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe immediately piqued my interest, combining my love affairs with both sweet potato and olive oil, and perhaps giving me an excellent chance to make use of my extensive Olivelle oil collection. Thanksgiving offered a large audience and so I set off to try it out.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

For my first attempt, I stuck largely to the original recipe, tweaking only to a sweet cream butter infused oil for half of it, and substituting rosemary for the sage. Paired with a rosemary herb butter, they were a delicious compliment to the usual Thanksgiving suspects, and I would definitely make that version again.

However, I had a hunch that my favorite maple and chipotle duo would work splendidly here, and gave that a try next. A hint of sweet from the syrup and a little kick from the chipotle turn this is into a perfect side for chilis or more Mexican-inspired soups. (They would be awesome with enchilada soup, for example.)

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

Since I was pairing mine with a spicy chili, I kept the biscuits with just a little kick to pull the flavors together. If you have other ideas, or just want all the heat, feel free to increase to your heart’s content.

Leftovers (if you don’t eat them all straight off the pan) can be enjoyed for several days, and are delightful on their own with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, or your favorite maple butter. Better yet, top them with a fried egg and a dollop of goat cheese along with that syrup, and you have a breakfast of champions.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

(I made that maple butter shown above, but it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. If I perfect the recipe, I’ll be sure to get it up here.)

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Adapted from The Speckled Palate
Makes about 16 biscuits

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
2-4 Tbsp maple syrup
olive oil to 1 cup (use an infused oil for extra flavor!)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle power, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper.) Set aside.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, pour desired amount of maple syrup.
  3. Pour in olive oil until combined total is 1 cup. (e.g. if you used 4 Tbsp maple syrup, you will add 3/4 cup olive oil to total 1 cup)
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together sweet potato and liquids until combined and smooth.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed, then continue to stir another 30 seconds.
  6. Lightly flour a cutting board or counter and press or roll dough into a rectangle 1/2″ – 3/4″ high.
  7. Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Gently reshape scraps in order to cut as many biscuits as possible.
  8. Arrange biscuits at least 1″ apart on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and biscuits are golden.
  10. Remove to a cooling rack to cool briefly, then serve warm with your favorite chili our soup.