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~ Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples and Candied Pecans ~

IMG_1365If you'd like to try, or are in search of, a uniquely-different delightfully-delicious starchy side-dish to serve with those barbecued spareribs, smoked pork chops or perfectly-grilled chicken at your upcoming outdoor get-together, this vinegar-based sweet potato salad, in place of traditional mayonnaise-based potato salad, is the ticket.  Porcine or poultry, sweet potatoes, and apples, are a common, not to mention very popular, trio.  The pickiest of eaters mostly agree they all taste great on the same plate because the flavors and textures simply put: all complement each other.  

The vinaigrette for this salad remarkably easy to make, as well as remarkably popular -- after all, almost everyone likes the sweet-and-savory combination of honey-and-mustard.  It requires few ingredients and takes just a few minutes.  In true vinaigrette style, it's thin and drizzly, but, it contains just enough Dijon mustard to keep it emulsified for a longer time, meaning, it doesn't separate like typical oil-and-vinegar mixtures.  It's fantastic on any cold vegetable salad or any hot roasted or grilled vegetable medley, and, it goes particularly well with grilled pork or poultry. There's more.  Because it's mayonnaise free, it's simply perfect for outdoor entertaining.

Because it's mayo free, it's perfect for outdoor entertaining:

IMG_12705-6 cups peeled and 1/2"-cubed sweet potatoes, cooked as directed below (1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds after peeling)

1  cup small-diced celery

1/2  cup fine-diced yellow or sweet onioin

1 generous cup skin-on thin-sliced honey-crisp apples, slices cut in half  (1 large apple)

1/2  cup small-chopped honey-glazed pecans, with 6-8 whole candied pecans reserved for garnishing each portion (1, 4-ounce bag honey-glazed pecans total)

3/4  cup my recipe for Sweet and Tangy Honey-Dijon White Balsamic Vinaigrette, total throughout recipe (1/2 cup for tossing into the initial sweet potato mixture, 1/4 cup for tossing in with apples and pecans just prior to serving.)

baby arugula leaves, one big handful

IMG_1266 IMG_1266 IMG_1266 IMG_1284 2 IMG_1284 2 IMG_1284 2~Step 1.  Peel, slice and cube the sweet potatoes as directed.  In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3-quarts lightly-salted water (1 teaspoon sea salt) to a rolling boil over high heat.  Add the cubed sweet potatoes and adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer.  Continue to cook until just fork tender, 4-5 minutes, checking often after 3 1/2 minutes.

IMG_1290 IMG_1290 IMG_1290 IMG_1301 IMG_1301~Step 2.  Drain the potatoes into a colander and run cold tap water through them to halt the cooking process and cool them to below room temperature.  Place a few layers in the bottom of a large bowl and add the potatoes to the bowl.  Let potatoes rest, about 15 minutes, to drain of all excess moisture and cool a bit more.  Remove the paper towels.

IMG_1309 IMG_1309 IMG_1309 IMG_1318 IMG_1318~Step 3.  Add the diced celery and onion to the bowl.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold them into the sweet potatoes.  When the vegetables are thoroughly combined, drizzle in 1/2 cup of the honey-mustard white-balsamic vinaigrette and fold again.  When all of the veggies are enrobed in the flavorful dressing, cover the bowl and refrigerate about 1 hour prior to serving time (or overnight if not serving salad until the next day).

IMG_1324 IMG_1324 IMG_1324 IMG_1330 IMG_1330 IMG_1330 IMG_1330~Step 4.  Remove the sweet potato, celery and onion mixture from the refrigerator.  Prep the onions and pecans as directed.  Using the large rubber spatula, gently fold in the apples, followed by the pecans.

IMG_1345 IMG_1345 IMG_1345 IMG_1345~Step 5.  Add the remainder of the vinaigrette to the salad and fold again, until all the ingredients are coated in even more of the flavorful dressing.  Add a heaping handful of baby arugula to the bowl -- no measurement here, just grab a big handful and throw it in.  Using a pair of salad servers, toss until the arugula is coated in dressing too.  The salad is ready to serve, and, leftovers, with very little compromise, will store, tightly covered, nicely in the refrigerator overnight.

Serve it rain or shine, w/your favorite poultry or porcine:

IMG_1364Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples and Candied Pecans:  Recipe yields 6-8 side-servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart saucepan; colander; paper towels; large rubber spatula; salad servers

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a8531d200dCook's Note: Horseradish.  It's powerful stuff and most folks aren't on the fence about it.  They either love it or hate it.  If you are a lover of the stuff, you know you've got to carefully pick and choose what you pair it with and how you do it too. For my taste, freshly-grated horseradish, prepared horseradish and horseradish- cream, mustard or mayo go best with beef and ham. Some folks like it with lamb, not me, but it's an option.  If it's beef or lamb your planning on cooking for your upcoming outdoor gathering, consider serving my  ~ Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Red-Skinned Potato Salad ~.  Fire up the grill! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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