Mexican Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Guest Posts, Main Dish, Mexican, Quick Meals, Side Dish, Side Salads, Vegetarian | 34 comments

I’m taking some time off to be with my family for a little while.
This recipe is written by Allison of Some the Wiser. Welcome, Allison!

I love food and I love to cook, though I haven’t always been very adventurous in the kitchen.  I have been a regular stalker of food blogs, I love to try new recipes and unusual ingredients, and I read cookbooks cover to cover like novels.  But until very recently, I didn’t dare deviate from a recipe.

mexican quinoa salad with sweet potato

I think my cautious cooking ways may have began when I was eight years old and I hatched a plan for an original Mother’s Day breakfast surprise.  My creation involved green grapes, yogurt, and lettuce.  It was a surprise alright, just not an edible one.  After that, I stuck to recipes.

For the most part, things have run smoothly in the kitchen with recipes and I have served meals, not science experiments, that are met with smiles at the table.  But now I have three kids and that has changed everything.

As a single mother working from home, I have to make a deliberate effort to accomplish the things on my daily to-do lists while making sure my children are always at the top of the priority list.

sweet potatoes and quinoa

Sometimes, getting to the grocery store doesn’t make it onto the schedule.  When I haven’t been able to round up all the ingredients for specific recipes, I have, of necessity, learned to improvise.

And that’s how this recipe, Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad, was born.  At the end of a long week, I found myself an hour from dinner time, with only some of the ingredients for all of the recipes I wanted to make.  But I had Quinoa, and I had Sweet Potatoes, and I was craving that Southwest Flavor.

mexican quinoa sweet potato salad

I can’t tell you that I have completely recovered from my childhood kitchen trauma, but I can assure you that this delicious recipe is no science experiment.  You will find it enjoyably edible!

Do you follow recipes closely or do you experiment in the kitchen?

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

serves 6

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1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 red bell pepper, cored, and diced
3 tablespoons minced green onion
1 cup sliced black olives
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes for garnish
freshly ground pepper


Combine quinoa with a large pinch of salt and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until until the grain is tender. If there is some water remaining, carefully strain the quinoa. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces. Cover with water in a medium saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to boil. Cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain well and cool slightly.

Toss together the potatoes, quinoa, bell pepper, onion, olive, avocado, and cilantro. Whisk the oil, lime juice, and chili powder together then toss the salad with the mixture. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Garnish with cilantro and grape tomatoes. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Note: If you have a baby, six months or older, at home, this makes delicious baby food too! Reserve a small portion of cooked quinoa and cooked sweet potatoes. Puree with one or two tablespoons of milk and serve.

About the Author:

Allison Ruth is mama to three hungry girls. She blogs at Some the Wiser where she takes life as it comes and tries to learn a little something as she goes. Whether she’s baking bread, sewing, or contemplating the fate of socks gone missing in the laundry, she looks for the peace and creativity life offers to everyone who is paying attention. Living life deliberately isn’t easy, she admits, but it helps when you have good things to eat. You can also find her at Allison Ruth Photography.

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  • 1
    kate - June 06, 2011 @ 6:44 am

    This looks amazing I love sweet potatoes and always need new qinoa ideas, thanks for sharing :)


  • 2
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - June 06, 2011 @ 6:50 am

    I rarely follow a recipe, I usually use a recipe as inspiration and make my own version based on my own tastes and what I happen to have in my fridge or pantry at the moment. These days quinoa has been making a lot of appearances at mealtimes, I really can’t seem to get enough of it!


    • Allison replied: — June 6th, 2011 @ 9:47 PM

      I am in awe of people like you who rarely follow a recipe! You inspire me!

  • 3
    kelley - June 06, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    I love quinoa and especially using it for the base in a salad. Can’t wait to try this with the sweet potatoes!


  • 4
    Ms Brown Bird - June 06, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    I’m still too afraid to completely make up a recipe, but I find myself now using recipes as a guideline instead of a set of rules. Normally my changes are just simple adjustments to spices or a small addition that doesn’t change much. I don’t have the confidence of improvisation yet, but I’m working on it. =)


    • Allison replied: — June 6th, 2011 @ 9:46 PM

      Baby steps! In fact, I think I am still taking baby steps in the kitchen! Once you have one successful improvisation though, it gives you a serious confidence boost! Best wishes for many good, creative meals, to you!

  • 5
    Amanda N - Wine and a Spoon - June 06, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    LOVE this. Was just listening to a story on the radio about how sweet potato is so popular these days, they’ve had increase supply exponentially in the US. No wonder, they’re awesome.


  • 6
    Betsy - June 06, 2011 @ 11:15 am

    Sounds good to me! Definitely going to give this one a try!


  • 7
    Amanda - June 06, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    Just beautiful Katie. And I am sure amazingly delicious!


  • 8
    Katrina - June 06, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    This sounds delicious! I need to come copy your recipie books. I am trying to cook with more organic ingredients and to eat more healthy. We will definitely be trying this recipe!


  • 9
    Amy @ A Little Nosh - June 06, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    I tend to follow recipes pretty closely. I rarely substitute an ingredient, but sometimes I’ll leave out a spice or something I don’t like. My deviations from recipes are usually big failures. LOL


    • Allison replied: — June 6th, 2011 @ 9:43 PM

      I felt the same way for such a long time! I’ve had a few successes recently though, so I am feeling pretty good. Just keep experimenting and you’re bound to hit on a good combination!

  • 10
    Mary (Mary, Quite Culinary) - June 07, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    I haven’t done much with quinoa but have seen a ton of recipes lately using it. I’m going to have get with the program and try it!


  • 11
    marla - June 17, 2011 @ 5:44 am

    Beautiful quinoa salad & lovely guest post :)


  • 12
    Carolyn Jung - June 17, 2011 @ 10:04 am

    What a great side dish for a summer bbq. Would be great with tacos. I’m definitely bookmarking this for the months to come.


  • 13
    Lacey @ dishfolio.com - June 17, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    Amazing photos! We’d love for you to share with us at dishfolio.com!


  • 14
    Julie - June 21, 2011 @ 5:32 am

    Served this to my young family of ten. Hubby said, “Put this on the List!” The avocado put it over the top. It was also super with chips (we used spicy blue), and I appreciated the idea for babies. Thumbs up from everyone!


  • 15
    R.W. Caldwell - July 06, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    This sounds like an awesome way to serve sweet potatoes, especially to the ones in my family who are “iffy” about eating them. Will definitely try this.


  • 16
    Candace - October 20, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    I almost never make recipes as they are written for some reason. I love salads like this. It looks delicious.


  • 17
    Caroline cummings - January 13, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    this recipe looks amazing…and i love quinoa!! Can’t wait to try it this weekend!


  • 18
    Ruth - March 13, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    This salad is so delicious! I am home alone and made it for lunch, I have to put it in the refregerator right now or I will eat it all!


  • 19
    Leigh Ann - April 20, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

    This is also very yummy and even more beautiful using black rice!


  • 20
    andrea k - May 03, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Loved the sweet potato quinoa salad – Thank you!


  • 21
    Becca - May 23, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    I just made this to pack for lunch tomorrow – it’s truly delicious and pretty easy to put together. Pretty, too. Thank you!


  • 22
    OliviaRose - June 09, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

    I made this and loved it! I left out the olives and added black beans and cumin. Delish!


  • 23
    Tracy - June 15, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    really yummy! brought it to a family gathering, a set of people i didn’t think would be overly keen on my bringing something outside their comfort zone but they loved it. it has great flavors and textures; i’m a huge fan of sweet potatoe and this certainly was a treat to have in a salad. i found that it absorbed the dressing so i made several more batches of dressing to toss onto the salad. it certainly kept well in the fridge for many days so i got to enjoy it for a long while after the gathering.


  • 24
    Rhonda - July 09, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    I made this on the weekend, and WOW.
    I already love quinoa, but this salad is amazing! It was even more flavorful the next day. I loved how there is just enough lime juice in the dressing to prevent the avocado from turning dark. ( I will probably add more avocado next time) I forgot to buy a red pepper, so I just quartered grape tomatoes, and added them. I am a real experimental type of cook, and don’t always follow recipes completely….you could come up with many variations of this recipe….such as adding black beans, lentils, etc. etc….
    This salad is so colorful! For anyone who “thinks” don’t like sweet potato, will have to think again. My little tip for keeping the sweet potato in whole cubes….I peel, and cube the potato and cook it in water in the microwave. For some reason, unlike cooking it on the stove, it doesn’t get mushy.
    Highly recommend!


  • 25
    RJ - August 21, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

    This looks like a refreshing salad. A must for this weekend! :-)


  • 26
    Staci @ ClickandCookRecipes - October 05, 2012 @ 1:03 am

    I used to be a by the book recipe gal, but I’m slowly venturing out. This recipe looks wonderful…I just love quinoa. Thanks for sharing!


  • 27
    Toi - December 27, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    I spontaneously tried this recipe. I just stocked the fridge with a bunch of healthy goodies. This dish is amazing!!!!it will definitely be a staple at my dinner table.


  • 28
    Julie - November 13, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    I CANT WAIT TO MAKE THIS!!!!!! But I’m wondering about the nutritional information for this recipe and how much is “a serving”. THANKS!


  • 29
    Charlene - January 17, 2015 @ 6:35 am

    Has anyone ever served this as a hot dish, rather than a salad? Thinking it will be a great potluck item to throw in a crock pot on a cold winter night?!


  • 30
    Francine - June 05, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

    Hi Katie, I had to stop by today after sharing your recipe again for the umpteenth time. I’ve been making variations of this salad for three years now and it’s a hit every single time. It’s become a staple dish for us now, and I’m even asked to make it for family lunches and events. So thank you! :)


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie Goodman replied: — June 8th, 2015 @ 10:57 PM

      Hi Francine – thank you so much for sharing! Glad you love it! :)

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