OOOO baby! Vegetarian YumSizzle meal comin’ atcha today. This sweet potato and lentil salad is brightened up with a zesty dressing, crispy shallots, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and dried cherries. This dish is a perfect summer lunch, or BBQ side dish nice and bright and light. All together it takes about an hour to pull this one together, there’s nothing fancy here, just baking some sweet potatoes, boiling some lentils, crisping up some shallots, and doing a bit of slicing and blending.
There’s a major bonus with this dish, which is that you can use pieces of it for all sorts of meals. The sweet potatoes make a great side dish for any dinner. The dressing goes really well on tacos and grilled veggies, and the crispy shallots…oh those lovely crispy shallots go well on just about everythings. Seriously, I would eat them by the handful if they weren’t so freaking annoying to peel!!
The Sweet Potatoes
We get this one started with the sweet potatoes. I’m looking for pretty classic sweet potatoes here, a little crisp on the outside, nice and browned with a lovely fluffy interior. I like to keep the skins on, there’s all sorts of nutrients and antioxidants in the skin of sweet potatoes, and I don’t want to lose any of those by peeling them. The skins also give a great chew to the final dish, so on they stay!
If you can try and find little baby sweet potatoes, they add a little aesthetic value to the final dish, but big boy potatoes will do just fine (cut into 3-4 inch pieces). The preparation is simple: toss the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and a tiny bit of cinnamon. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet with the ‘meat’ side down, skin side up. Pop them in a 400 degree preheated oven. We want some caramelization to happen so all that bubblin’ around the edges is good cookin! Roast them for about 45-50 minutes until they are tender. You might want to check on them after 40 minutes to make sure they don’t burn, some ovens run hot!
Next up we gotta get our protein in so I’ll get started on the lentils. Just a cup of green lentils, a pot full of water and a big punch of salt. Bring that up to a boil then cook the lentils for 10-15 minutes until they’re nice and tender. No one likes a mushy lentil, so try not to overcook them. When the lentils are finished just drain them, and set them aside until you’re ready to plate.
The lentils play a nutritional role in this dish (as well as a flavor role!). Lentils are one of the all time amazing foods in terms of nutrient density. They’re high in complex carbs and fibre, and they’re also super protein dense, which makes them a great addition to any dish lacking in the protein department. Anyway, if you don’t like lentils you can always use a bean instead, red beans or chickpeas would work nicely.
Crispy Shallots are Da Bomb
While those lentils are bubblin’ away it’s time for one of my favorite kitchen hacks. Yup, I’m talking crispy shallots. This is a super easy way to add crunch and flavor to a dish. Literally just sliced up shallots, cooked in oil slowly until they’re nice and browned and crispy. After you make these once you’ll be making them all the time. They are delicious on literally everything, well, maybe not desserts, but everything else.
For this I slice up my shallots so they’re an even thickness. Yes, peeling shallots is the worst, sorry – not sorry. Place the shallots in a pan and cover them with oil, they don’t need to be drowning in the oil. Heat up the shallots and oil together and cook them on a medium low to low heat until they’re golden brown – about 15-20 minutes. Depending on your stove this might take longer, but just give them time and you’ll get there. If after 10 minutes you’re not seeing any sizzling happening turn your heat up a little bit.
Keep an eye on them towards the end, they move quickly from browned to burned. When they’re done scoop out the shallot slices and place them on a paper towel and sprinkle them with salt.
The tahini, lime, and cilantro dressing is basically summer in a jar. Really easy to make this one. Just place all the ingredients together in a blender and mix ‘em all together. Tahini, lime, salt, pepper, oil, garlic. Done. Depending on your tahini it might be a little thick, just drizzle in some water while you’re blending if you want it a little thinner and easier to use.
With the dressing finished it’s all about chopping up the tomatoes and onion, then grabbing a big plate and putting it all together. Sprinkle the lentils, tomatoes and onion on top. Then I’m going to drizzle on the dressing, yes squirt bottles are my best friend…I named this one greg. Pop on the dried cherries, feta cheese, and crispy shallots and you’re good to go!
As an additional step take half of the dressing and toss the lentils in it before plating. I didn’t do this because I really enjoy the flavor of lentils, but if you’re serving to some ‘lentil haters’ give them some flavor and hide their lentilyness a little bit. Feel free to make this dish a day or two ahead of time and serve is cold, it is technically a ‘salad’ after all.
Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad