Sweet Potato Sunshine Salad

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 4 votes

Sweet potato sunshine salad with Morocco-inspired spices, date dressing, mint, and pistachios. A healthy vegan crowd pleaser made in 30 minutes!

An up close, overhead shot of a sweet potato and vegetable salad in a light green bowl.
An overhead shot of a dog's head moving towards a serving of salad in a small white cup.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a sweet potato salad with vegetables, dates, pistachios and mint.


I follow a lot of the fluffy and typical cute animal Twitter/Facebook accounts. I also get in a good half cry about every other day when I see a photo or video of an animal being reunited with a sibling or its favourite human, or stories of an abandoned/mistreated animal finally finding peaceful refuge. Frequent contact with any number of species helps you understand some of the more important tenets of humanity, I think.

When we adopted our little gal Cleo through a local rescue organization, we were able to do some digging into her past through some Facebook posts and timeline updates. A local had found her and her siblings as pups in a drainage pipe beside a busy highway in the middle of a thunderstorm. From there, they spent some time at that family’s home regaining their strength and getting healthy again. A volunteer then drove them all the way to Ontario from Louisiana to be placed in temporary foster homes. A few weeks after our girl had been in Canada, we adopted her and brought her home. (Her siblings have been adopted too!)

I get a little lump in my throat when I think about what she went through to find us, and how loving, playful, and sweet she is despite all of those circumstances. When she snuggles up to me when I’m feeling kinda cruddy, or greets me with extra kisses when I rush through the door, or when she bugs me for a walk when I’ve been at the computer too long, I know that our lives are fundamentally linked. There’s an understanding there that goes beyond basic needs being met.

This salad is all sweet potato goodness today because that’s Cleo’s favourite treat. We get those sweet potato jerky slices for her, but I also give her little pieces when we’re having them roasted or steamed for dinner. This dish has a bit of a Moroccan stew vibe, but appropriately cool for summer. I treat it like a potato salad essentially, but with lots of extra vegetables, some chickpeas, and a creamy date, lemon and spice vinaigrette. This salad’s got a little extra something going on, but I think it could certainly be a crowd pleaser at any old outdoor gathering you might get up to.

4 images show: whole sweet potatoes soaking in water, peeled purple carrots, ingredients for a fate and lemon vinaigrette, and a mixed up sweet potato and vegetable salad.
Image shows a head on shot of a mint plant growing in a galvanized metal pot.
A hand is feeding a chunk of sweet potato to a cute dog.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a sweet potato sunshine salad, before being mixed.
An overhead shot of a sweet potato and vegetable salad in a light green bowl.

Sweet Potato Sunshine Salad

Sweet potato sunshine salad with Morocco-inspired spices, date dressing, mint, and pistachios. A healthy vegan crowd pleaser made in 30 minutes!
5 from 4 votes
moroccan-ish sweet potato sunshine salad // thefirstmess.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Date Vinaigrette

  • 2 pitted Medjool dates, soaked in hot water for at least 5 minutes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • teaspoon chili flakes
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • reserved date soaking water

Salad

  • lbs mini sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (I used some heirloom purple ones for colour contrast)
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced into 3/4 inch pieces
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ small red onion, sliced thin
  • ½-1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • big handful of cilantro leaves, leaves chopped
  • 1 healthy sprig of mint, leaves chopped
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Equipment

Notes

  • You could add some cooked quinoa or millet to the mix–about a 1/2 cup of dry grain cooked.
  • I’m guessing that mini sweet potatoes aren’t available everywhere. If I was doing this with regular sweet potatoes, I’d probably take 3 medium sized tubers and cut them down the middle lengthwise, and then just boil them like that and proceed with the recipe as written.

Instructions

  • Make the dressing: combine the soaked dates (reserving the water), olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, chopped ginger, ground coriander, chili flakes, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in an upright blender. Blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. Add a couple spoonfuls of the date soaking water to get the blade moving, if necessary. You want it totally pureed and almost creamy. I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of the water. Check the vinaigrette for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.
  • Place the mini sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer the sweet potatoes until they’re nice and tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the sweet potatoes and place them in an ice bath to cool them down quickly.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1 inch-ish pieces–kind of like how you would for a potato salad. Place cut sweet potatoes in a large bowl along with the diced carrots, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion slices, chickpeas, cilantro, and mint. Season all of the vegetables with lots of salt and pepper. Add the date vinaigrette to the bowl and toss the vegetables and chickpeas to coat. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top and serve.
An overhead shot of a sweet potato and vegetable salad in a light green bowl.
01/07/2015 (Last Updated 09/02/2023)
Posted in: autumn, chickpeas, earthy, gluten free, grain-free, main course, refined sugar-free, salad, salty, sauce, side dish, sour, spring, summer, sweet, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegan, winter

62 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Sophia

    Just tried out your salad, and it tasted AMAZING. I really loved the vinaigrette, it gives so much flavour!
    Thank you very much for sharing

  • jenny

    Loved the idea of the date vinaigrette, made it today and stirred it into some warm chickpeas with roasted red onion, and even that simple it was very delicious!

  • Linda

    Made this last night and it was truly delish-ish! It will become a summer staple, as I cannot get enough sweet potatoes. The dressing was a dream! Thanks!

  • Natasha

    This salad was amazing! Thank you for sharing. My boyfriend and I kept sneaking into the kitchen for leftovers the rest of the day :)

  • Liberty

    so yummy! I can never follow a recipe totally so when I blended the dressing I think I added too much date water so to make it creamier I added tahini. It turned out great! Thanks!

  • Jlla

    Made this for the second time and changed it up a bit – it was too sweet for me. I added kalamata olives, lemon zest and feta cheese. It’s a great combination.

  • Jen

    This recipe looks absolutely delicious, definitely going to give it a go (with the quinoa included).

    Just wanted to say that your photography is probably the best that I have seen out of all of the food blogs that I’ve visited. Beautiful!

  • Andrea

    You should make this! Now! I just made this for lunch with only one modification – I used shallot instead of red onion only because I didn’t have red onion and I had just gotten back from the grocery. Everything else, the cilantro, mint, pistachios, even the purple carrot I followed exactly. I also liked your suggestion at the end of your post to add a grain, so I ended up adding a cup of brown rice. OMG!! This is so good! Such interesting flavors. This is a keeper and I am thinking of making it for my party next month.

  • Margo Page

    Your pictures a so lovely! and this salad is blowing my mind right now! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  • emily

    this looks amazing — perfect for my farmer’s market goodies :)
    question: what’s the best way to store left overs ? i’d love to make a big batch and eat throughout the week. should i store dressed or store separately ?

    • Laura

      I store leftovers lightly coated with about half of the dressing and then re-up my dressing as I eat it :)
      -L

  • Marry

    Love this salad! Why I never thought to use sweet potatoes I don’t know. And dates instead of honey, yum. Every bite was delicious. I love all the different flavors. Thank you so much.

  • Chris

    Being the owner of a rescue dog myself I love the story. The colors in this salad are fantastic as is the photography.
    Can you use turmeric instead of ginger?

    • Laura

      Hey Chris! I think you could use turmeric instead, but the flavour of the vinaigrette will me much milder if you do.
      -L

  • Chloe

    YUM! I have no other words except for “yum.”
    this seriously looks too delicious and i will mot definitely be testing out this recipe myself sometime soon :)
    xox
    chloe
    http://popcosmo.com

  • Velvet & Vinegar

    I don`t even know which recipe I want to check out first everything looks just so yummy. Love it, got a new reader :)

    xoxo

  • IAmJ

    This was delicious! I ended up roasting the carrots and sweet potatoes, no changes otherwise. The dressing was divine. It makes great leftovers, too.

  • Zofia

    Cleo looks so cute! It’s good to know she found a loving owner. And the recipe looks delicious!

  • Ines

    I tried your recipe this week (with more sweet potato and less other vegetables) and it was amazing! I had to stop myself from “testing the seasoning” =P I cut up the sweet potatoes in bite sized pieces and then steamed them and stirred them into the dish while slightly warm, which was great!
    Thank you for the recipe!

  • Anna

    Dear Laura, I’ve exploded with happiness! Thank you!

  • Hannah

    Amazing combination of herbs and zestyness. Everything good comes out of this salad including satiated smiles!

  • Anita

    Made this salad last night and it was so delicious! Tweaked the sauce a bit according to personal preference, added some ground cumin, a tablespoon each of tahini and keffir. Leftovers even better then next day as all potato salads are (I am eating them as I write this comment).

  • Reduceri online

    It looks amazing!

  • Tamanique @ The Maximalist!

    So beautiful and tasty looking – this, and your cold vegan noodle salad just made my menu for next week! Whenever I’m not sure what to make, I check your blog first :)

  • Brother Bear

    This salad has everything Mediterranean about it. I’m gonna mix up the sweet potato variety when I make this. Thank you for sharing. It’s beautiful.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    So proud of everything you’re doing with So Delicious! Wishing you lots of luck. You definitely got my vote!

    This salad is my idea of the perfect vegetarian meal. Healthy, satisfying, loaded with flavor. So, I’m right there with Cleo. ;-)

  • katy

    i love this vinaigrette. will make extra next time!

  • Sus @ roughmeasures.com

    Cleo is adorable! She’s lucky to have you guys giving her the best possible life after a traumatic start. A great cause too, you got my vote!
    This salad looks sensational. All my fave ingredients and love that date dressing!

  • Clementine

    Laura this salad looks so glorious, I can’t wait to give it try and such beautiful photos – as always. Little Cleo is so sweet x

  • Sherrie

    Aww little Cleo is the cutest, I can tell from the way you talk about her and her photos that she has such a soft, sweet soul. This post is wonderful Laura, and that salad is pretty magical. I love how saturated the colors and flavors are, so good, xo!

  • Keara McGraw

    Agh that date vinaigrette sounds insane! I can’t wait to make it. Gave your treat a good solid vote because DUH great cause, great lady, great smoothie (win-win-win)

  • Grace

    Cleo is the cutest! I love seeing pics of her, you should totally submit her pics to cuteoverload.com And I voted for your smoothie! Hope you win!

  • Emily

    I think salads are where you really shine through. This is such a cretive mix of flavors and textures. Also, not fussy at all! Easy peasy. A lot like your last post, which was equally fabulous. I look forward to making it!

  • Bridget

    Such a lovely recipe. And you’re right, it is like a salad version of a Moroccan stew. I’m always looking for more ways to use sweet potato so will give this a try. Thanks.

  • lynsey | lynseylovesfood.com

    your story of cleo is heartbreaking. i am so glad she found you guys… but who would leave her and her siblings like that? My heart. Fingers crossed and votes cast for your smoothie. Also that dressing….yes. yes. yes! xo

  • Danika Maia

    Gorgeous! I love Morrocan food with dates in it, this is definitely going on my to do list!

  • Jacqui

    Love it! Just voted and this salad has so many of my favorite things!

  • Amanda | Pickles & Honey

    I loved reading this post. Anything with animals is so close to my heart. <3 Just voted and it looks like you're in the lead! This salad is beautiful, as always. My dogs will be pumped when I make it because like Cleo, they adore sweet potatoes (and chickpeas!).

  • Abby

    Oh, Laura, you are so talented! I adore this. <3

  • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

    Hehe me and my sister are the queen of baby animal Instagrams. She cried when one of the bunnymama’s rabbits died. I hope you follow the baby hedgehog and baby goat instagrams.

    P.S. rescue pets are the only way to go, Cleo is adorable :D

  • Paula

    Again, a colorful and delicious salad. It looks great. It’s so inviting to taste and enjoy..

  • Emily | Gather & Dine

    Oh these colors! I want this for lunch now. :) I always love seeing what you come up with. Just voted for you as well!

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    Laura, I can’t tell you how much I admire and respect you for rescuing your little pup, Cleo! I rescued my own baby in September 2013, after she was found abandoned and starving in Arkansas. She was in such bad shape when I got her that she still suffers from minor medical issues to this day. But she is the sweetest little ray of sunshine, and I can’t imagine my life without her. She really is my baby! I wish I could give every abandoned, neglected dog a happy home. In a perfect world, right? But I can’t commend you enough for advocating such an amazing cause. Much love to you and Cleo, from Ivy and me!! :)

  • reeve

    Hey There! This looks amazing. I will be trying it asap. Can you suggest something to use instead of ginger. I love ginger but I’m allergic to it…ugh, so sad.

    • Laura

      Hey reeve, If you can find it, I would recommend subbing about the same amount of lemongrass. And if lemongrass isn’t available, I’d use just a little extra lemon juice and some of the zest as well, about 1 teaspoon. You could also use a garlic clove instead and take it a different direction entirely!
      -L

      • Reeve

        Thanks SO much! I love lemongrass…yea! And garlic, sadly that’s a no-no for me as well. But that keeps me trying new herbs and spices all the time;)

  • Sydney | Modern Granola

    This salad is so beautiful! What a heavenly mix of flavors! I can’t wait to try this!
    xx Sydney

  • Alexa [fooduzzi.com]

    OMG! I could eat this every day! What a beautiful summer salad!

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

    Gah. The animal stories KILL me. Our kitty came from a shelter and whenever I think about all those animals I just want to rescue ALL of them! Let’s start a farm and rescue all the animals, ok?

  • Tori@Gringalicious.com

    Gorgeous salad and I love the ish in the title, so awesome!

  • Lindsey

    Yes, the sweet pups in this world could definitely teach us humans a thing or two! I totally feel you on getting choked up thinking about where Cleo came from and all the hardship she had to endure; our pup came from the streets of LA and ended up in NY by way of an animal rescue org, but that’s about all we know about him. That’s so awesome that you guys were able to know more of her backstory, and how she came to be in your sweet home :) Loving this salad big time – date vinaigrette!? Too good! xo

  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well

    Your words were so touching in this post, Laura <3. I love your connection to your pup and this organization. Totally voted for you, girl! And this salad? How do you do it. Always, AMAZING. <3

  • Kathryn

    I totally admit to not being a huge dog person (mainly because I’m absolutely terrified of them) but even I have to admit that Cleo is one cute pup and you guys have done a great thing in giving her such a loving and stable home. Like Cleo, I have a soft spot for sweet potatoes although I tend to neglect them in the warmer months. Loving the summer vibes of this dish and can’t wait to make it.