Our Lentil Sweet Potato Salad is perfect whether you're looking for a satisfying main dish or a tasty side. Plus, it's ideal for meal prep - talk about convenient! Packed with nutrition and flavour, thanks to the aromatic Cajun vinaigrette, this salad is a winner.
In this sweet potato lentil salad, we take humble ingredients like lentils and sweet potatoes and elevate them with bursts of Cajun spice and the creaminess of avocados.
It's great for making ahead just like our pearl barley salad and also for enjoying as a quick, wholesome lunch or dinner. You can also bring it to potlucks or serve it up for a delicious brunch. Give it a try and see for yourself - you won't be disappointed!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Sweet Potatoes - are highly nutritious and used here for their bright colour and sweet flavour. Roasted to perfection, they bring a mellow sweetness, contrasting beautifully with the earthy lentils. They can be replaced with carrots or your favourite pumpkin variety.
- Lentils - to add some vegetable protein and iron (a cup of lentils provides 6.6mg of iron). You can use brown, green, or even black varieties, aiming for a firm texture. Or replace them with any of your favourite legumes such as chickpeas or black beans.
- Avocado - full of healthy fats it adds a creamy richness and increases the satiety of this salad. If you are not a fan then you can leave it out or replace it with your favourite nuts or soft cheese such as goat's cheese, feta or bocconcini.
- Red Capsicum/Pepper - introduces a crisp, colourful snap, with any bell pepper variety doing the trick or add your favourite hot chilli peppers for some heat.
- Red Onion is used - for its bright purple colour and mild astringent flavour. It can be replaced by any onions you have on hand or you can just leave them out if you don't like them.
- Coriander/Cilantro - Vibrant cilantro ties all flavours together, but if that's not your herb of choice, parsley offers a fresh alternative.
- Cajun Vinaigrette - we have used a flavourful Cajun vinaigrette to add some aromatic flavour to our lentil sweet potato salad but you if you are in a hurry just add some balsamic dressing instead.
Step 1 - Roast Sweet Potatoes
First, preheat your oven to a cozy 180°C/356°F.
Take your sweet potatoes wash them and give them a good scrub, peel them if you like and cut them into small, bite-sized pieces.
It's all about the roast, so toss them onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of golden extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of Cajun spice and some sea salt then give them a good mix. Make sure they're well-coated.
Into the oven they go for about 30 minutes. You're looking for tender and slightly caramelized edges. Keep an eye out; it's quite the transformation.
Step 2 - Cook the Lentils
While the sweet potatoes are doing their dance in the oven, let’s tackle the lentils. If you've chosen to start from scratch, rinse those lentils first.
In a medium pot, cover them with water, season with some sea salt and bring to a boil. Simmer gently. This is the part where patience is a virtue. About 20-25 minutes later, they should be tender yet firm. Drain them.
You'll find step-by-step prepping and cooking instructions for lentils in our post for black lentil salad.
Step 3 - Prep the Vegetables
Now, give your capsicum and red onion a nice wash. Then, get rid of the core from the capsicum and the papery skin from the onion. Once that's done, chop them up into a small dice, easy peasy 😊.
Next up is prepping the avocados. Start by rinsing and peeling them, then removing the pit and cutting them into medium-sized chunks. Check out our step-by-step avocado prep post for more details!
Don't forget to give your coriander a good wash, and make sure to shake off any excess water. After that, give the stems and leaves a rough chop, and you're all set to add some delicious flavour to your dish!
Step 4- Shake-up the Vinaigrette
In a small glass jar, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic glaze, Cajun spice, and minced garlic. It’s all about balance here, then give everything a good shake until it is well combined.
Step 5- Assemble the Salad
Next comes the assembly, the part where everything comes together. In a large mixing bowl, introduce the roasted sweet potatoes to the cooked lentils, add all the chopped veg to the mix then our coriander is next. It adds that fresh, herbal note that wakes everything up.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently; you want to keep those textures. You're not just mixing; you're getting all those flavours to know each other.
Arrange in a white salad bowl or platter to really make those colours pop.
You can serve this delectable salad on its own or as a hearty side. It's a versatile dish, perfect for any occasion, promising a burst of flavours and nutrients in every forkful.
Pairing Suggestions and Serving Ideas
Serving this lentil sweet potato salad takes any meal from good to great.
Picture it next to a grilled portobello mushroom, the smoky flavours mingling perfectly. This salad also shines beside a piece of seared salmon, the rich fish complementing the earthy lentils and sweet potatoes.
It's a hit at summer picnics, where its robust flavours stand up well to outdoor dining.
Common Questions and Tips
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! This salad keeps well in the fridge, so feel free to prepare it in advance for a convenient and tasty meal prep option.
You can also prep the lentils and sweet potatoes ahead of time, it can save you valuable minutes when you're ready to assemble the salad. Simply refrigerate the cooked lentils and roasted sweet potatoes in airtight containers until you're ready to use them.
Is this salad filling enough for a meal?
Yes, indeed! With the combination of lentils and sweet potatoes, this salad is hearty and satisfying enough to be enjoyed as a wholesome meal on its own. It's a perfect choice for a nutritious and delicious lunch or dinner.
Is this salad suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet?
Yes, indeed! This salad is not only vegetarian and vegan-friendly, but it's also a fantastic source of plant-based protein and essential nutrients.
What's the best way to store leftovers of this salad?
To keep the flavours fresh, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last for a few days, but with its delicious taste, it's unlikely to stay around for long!
A great meal prep tip:
Mix the salad components and store the dressing separately to keep everything fresh and vibrant. This way, you can enjoy a spectacularly fresh salad, even on day three!
- 800 grams sweet potatoes (approximately 28oz)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun spice
- 250 grams cooked lentils (one 400g/14oz tin or 1⅓ cups)
- 350 grams avocado (1 large avocado approximately 12oz)
- 180 grams red capsicum/pepper (½ large approximately 6oz)
- 60 grams red onion (½ medium red onion approximately 2oz)
- 1 cup coriander/cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
- 2 teaspoons Cajun spice
- 1 clove Garlic (minced)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/356F.
- Wash, scrub then peel the sweet potatoes.
- Chop into a medium dice.
- Place on a lined baking tray add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun spice, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper then mix well until the sweet potatoes are well coated.
- Place in the middle of you hot oven and roast until just soft (approximately 30 minutes).
- While your sweet potatoes are roasting prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Drain the lentils and rinse them well.
- Wash your capsicum and red onion halves trim, remove the core from the capsicum and the papery skin from the onion. Chop them into a small dice.
- Check on your sweet potatoes, shake the pan and give them a toss to brown on the other side.
- Wash your coriander thoroughly, shake well to remove excess water then roughly chop both the stems and the leaves.
- Rinse your avocado remove the pit, peel and cut into a medium cubes.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to a glass jar, season and shake well until emulsified.
- Place everything in a large mixing bowl.
- Check on the sweet potatoes, they should be just done, slightly soft but not mushy. Add them to the mixing bowl without the excess oil.
- Mix the salad well to combine, taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
- Arrange in a salad bowl and serve when ready.
- This salad benefits by standing for at least ten minutes to allow the flavoured to meld together.