Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pineapple, Avocado and Sweet Potato Salad

Preparing a vegan dish can feel like enough of a challenge for some cooks. But vegan and gluten-free? Oh, and also toddler-friendly? Facing these restrictions at a recent potluck dinner party, I contemplated some sort of plate full of tofu. It works, right? But instead, I decided upon this salad.

For the record, I happen to really like a plate full of tofu. But I also really, really like this salad. This is not a dish that screams out I meet a rigorous listing of dietary restrictions! It's a dish that says Hello! Would you like some tropical pineapple, broiled into caramelized sweetness? How about a buttery chunk of avocado? 

The inspiration for this salad comes from a Cuban recipe, all sweet pineapple, smooth avocado, and snappy greens. I kept the basic format, but also added some wedges of sweet potato and a handful of beans, to make it more of a meal. And it's a good one. Topped with sweet-yet-healthy bites that toddlers will happily grab onto, sans animal products and gluten, and full of delicious.

Pineapple, Avocado and Sweet Potato Salad

adapted from Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America
serves ~4-6

3 small white or orange sweet potatoes, scrubbed & woody end bits trimmed off as needed
1 good-sized pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for sweet potatoes
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons lime juice
hefty pinch salt
1 bunch arugula, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 large buttery avocado, cut into cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cooked black beans (optional)

Set the sweet potatoes in a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Let simmer until just fork-tender, ~15 minutes, and remove from the pot and let cool slightly.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, preheat your broiler. Place the pineapple slices on a baking pan, and sprinkle with the sugar. Broil until caramelized to a golden brown, ~5-10 minutes (broilers can incinerate things quite easily, so check often!). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Turn your oven from broil to 450° Fahrenheit. Cut the par-baked sweet potatoes into wedges, and place them on a baking pan. Drizzle lightly with oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast until they are butter soft and starting to become golden on the edges, ~20 minutes, turning once. Remove, and let cool.

To make the dressing, place the olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a covered jar, and shake to emulsify. Taste, and adjust as needed.

To assemble the salad, place the arugula in a large bowl, and top with the avocado, red onions, black beans, and reserved pineapple and sweet potato wedges. Top with the dressing, toss (if desired), and serve.


  1. I am making this tonight! Thanks for a sunny idea

  2. Just want to add that this was phenomenal! Light but filling, sweet bits among the refreshing greens. I also used black beans to increase protein level. Easy to cook-ahead the pineapple and sweet potato.

    1. Great to hear! Just the sunny meal for these winter days.