Warm Spinach Salad with Smokey Pecans and Sweet Potato

So I know you folks typically come here for the guilty foods. The gooey, the rich and the unabashedly fattening. And today I give you.. a salad?

What madness is this?

Well, there are a few reasons.

  1. After all that talk about pretending food is healthier than it is, I felt it might be time to do something actually healthy, no excuses required.
  2. Yesterday, I’d eaten what I think was one of the greasiest meals I’ve ever had at an Irish Pub for lunch earlier that day. It wasn’t even deliciously greasy, it was “I got deep-fried in old, not hot enough oil” greasy. So this salad for dinner was like the carrot in a day of chocolate ice cream, allowing me to pretend yet again that I was healthier than I actually am.
  3. Whether or not you want to believe me, this salad is pretty awesome, and not just for a salad.

Let me break down the awesomeness for you.

Although I enjoy the freshness of lettuce, both Trevor and I are big fans of the flavours of darker greens like spinach. It makes a great base for other flavours while still contributing its own.

But that’s not my favourite thing about this salad.

There are also the toasted pecans, dusted with some smoked paprika and adding a crunchy texture. I could probably eat these all on their own.

However, they were not my favourite part either.

Let us talk a second about sweet potato. I love sweet potato. Its colour, its flavour, the texture it gets when it’s cooked enough to be soft but not mushy.

It’s a perfect light sweetness to accent the bitterness of spinach and the sharpness of a vinaigrette. I don’t see a lot of salads with sweet potato, and after this one I’m not entirely sure why that is. It is my favourite thing about this salad and a favourite ingredient of mine in general. I gravitate towards any dish that has sweet potato in it.

Still think a salad on this blog is weird? Well, think of it this way. If the lady who usually brings you brownies, cookies and cakes brings you salad, I think that might be a salad you want to try.

And I promise, I’ll bring you something that’ll go straight to your thighs next time.

Warm Spinach Salad with Smokey Pecans and Sweet Potato

Recipe from Chow.com

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup whole raw pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Place spinach in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add pecans, stir to coat in oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until nuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, and stir to evenly coat the nuts. Add to the bowl with the reserved spinach.
  3. Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and heat until shimmering. Add sweet potato, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika and stir to coat the sweet potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potato just gives way when pierced with a knife and is starting to brown at the edges, about 10 minutes. Add to the bowl with the nuts and spinach.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and heat until shimmering. Add shallot and cook until just golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard and whisk to combine. Pour vinaigrette over spinach, nuts, and sweet potato and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

One thought on “Warm Spinach Salad with Smokey Pecans and Sweet Potato

  1. I like spinach, I love pecans, I enjoy eating anything with shallots and I also love sweet potatoes, all the better that it is also healthy! This is a winner! :)

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