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This salad is good at any time of the year.  It is a great summer salad, as no mayo, but it also is lovely in the autumn, when the leaves turn about the same color as the salad.  Make it the day ahead and chill it overnight.  But, it’s best eaten at room temperature.  Add some red chile flakes for a little heat, when the thermometer dips.  As I was mixing this up today, I realized this is the perfect Halloween salad!  Of course, I’m about a week late on that, but no matter…now you have it for next year!

This salad goes together rather quickly.  I bake the sweet potatoes in the microwave just until they can be pierced, but still have a bit of resistance.  They will continue to cook and be the perfect doneness when they cool.  I use two large ones, but you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.  I use about 2-3 cups of diced sweet potatoes.  I make the vinaigrette in the bottom of the bowl I’m going to mix the salad in.  Just put everything but the oils in, whisk them up and then ever-so slowly drizzle the oils in, whisking like a dervish, until the oil is all incorporated.  The vinaigrette will be just slightly thickened.  This is a nice vinaigrette unto itself.  I’ve been know to make a triple batch, just to have it on hand.  When I do that, I put everything, including the oils in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake the hell out of it.  Then store it in the fridge and use at will.

After you have the vinaigrette whisked together,

dump everything else into the bowl.  Gently, so as to not mash up the sweet potato, combine the salad.  Taste it; it should taste just slightly salty, but after a 30 minute rest, it will be perfect.  This is far and away best served at room temperature.

A couple of things to consider—the pineapple.  You may used either fresh or canned (or frozen, for that matter).  I think fresh is best, but canned still makes a decent salad.  I’ve also used diced mango, and that too, was wonderful.  I used roasted garlic, but you absolutely may judiciously use fresh and I’ve used garlic granules with good results.  If you want a sharper lime flavor, use the greater amount of lime juice.  Don’t worry if you feel it’s too sharp, just drizzle a bit of honey over the whole thing, toss and that should correct the problem.  I didn’t give you the option of adding nuts.  Toasted pecans or cashews are good, and I like to add them.  But, if the salad is going to sit for any time at all, I don’t like what happens with the nuts.  You can, of course, always serve them on the side…problem solved!  This salad is a nice complement to any meal that leans into the Latino culinary world.  I really like it with Frita Cubana (Cuban Burger), Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado), Braised Pork Shoulder with Roasted PIneapple, Cuban-Style Roast Chicken, and of course, a Cuban Sandwich.

Full disclosure, I’ve given you proportions for 6-8, but I made half this amount.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Salad with Lime-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderately Easy
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  • Lime-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette:
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • Salad:
  • 2 cups cooked sweet potato, cubed (about 2 large)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, skin removed and diced (optional)
  • 2 scallions, chopped (include some of the green part)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely diced pineapple (fresh is best, but canned is good, too)
  • 1/2 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives (salad olives work well)
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

In the bowl you plan to mix the salad in, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients, except the oils.  Whisk together until well combined.  Combine the oils; slowly drizzle into the bowl, whisking constantly until the mixture comes together and is slightly thickened.

Add the salad ingredients to the bowl; gently fold the ingredients together with the vinaigrette, until combined.  Taste.  The mixture should taste just slightly salty.  Let the salad stand for at least 30 minutes.  If made ahead and chilled, return to room temperature before serving.  This is best served at room temperature.

NOTE:  I bake the sweet potatoes in the microwave until just barely tender.  Let stand until you can handle them, then remove the skins.  Dice into about 1/2-inch pieces.  This can be done the day before and the potatoes can be refrigerated in their skins.  Also, this is equally delicious with mango substituted for the pineapple.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Salad with Lime-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019.  All rights reserved.