Riding the Sweet Potato Moment

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

The sweet potato moment has stretched into an hour. No longer the stuff of Thanksgiving casseroles and sweet potato pie, sweet potatoes are the new French fry and the new breakfast toast. Nudging out white spuds, they’re baked, tucked into burritos and noodled through spiralizers.

For fall, I created a Moroccan-spiced roasted sweet potato salad. More of a side dish, it tastes best at room temperature and can be made a day or two ahead– the flavors just get better. The North African flavors of ginger, cinnamon and cumin are lit up with cayenne, whisked into a lemon-olive oil dressing and tossed with roasted sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, green olives and chewy dried figs. Roasting the potatoes concentrates the flavors.


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Eating plenty of healthful foods like this salad may help us stay healthy during fall and winter. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients including dietary fiber, B6, vitamin C, potassium and manganese. (Reference 1)

Beta carotene, the pigment that gives orange-fleshed sweet potatoes their color has antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants (Others include vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium) neutralize free radicals that result from metabolism and external factors such as smoking and pollution that cause oxidative stress. Free radical damage is linked to inflammation and a higher incidence of conditions such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and stroke. (Reference 2,3).

Beta carotene is also a pro-vitamin – the body converts it to vitamin A. Enjoy a medium sweet potato and you’ll meet your daily need for vitamin A or come very close (Recommended amounts of nutrients vary with age and gender.) Vitamin A is essential to vision, the immune system, reproduction and the development and maintenance of the heart and other organs. (Reference 4.)

I developed this recipe for the Valley Fig Growers Fig Focus Newsletter available here – September 2017.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Green Olives and Figs

This hearty salad can be made a day ahead and allowed to marinate in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Instead of individual servings, you can arrange the salad on a platter over a bed of baby spinach or arugula leaves.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Serves 6.
Fig Dressing:
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 to ½ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 cup Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Figs, stemmed and sliced

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup pitted, sliced or chopped green olives
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, mint or combination
6 large cabbage or lettuce leaves


1. Whisk together all Dressing ingredients except olive oil, garlic and Figs. Whisk in oil. Stir in Figs and garlic. Set aside for one hour or chill for up to overnight.
2. For salad, preheat oven to 400°. Line a large, rimmed baking pan with foil or parchment. Toss sweet potato cubes with oil and spread on pan. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
3. For salad, in a large bowl, combine roasted potatoes with bell pepper, red onion, olives and parsley. Remove garlic clove from Fig Dressing and discard. Add Fig Dressing to salad ingredients and toss gently.
4. To serve, spoon salad into cabbage or lettuce leaves.

1. The Food Processor, ESHA research. USDA nutrient data for the sweet potato.
2. What is beta-carotene? What are the benefits? Christian Nordqvist,October 26, 2016. Medicalnewstoday.com https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758.php
3. Antioxidants: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information by Megan Ware RDN LD. November 11, 2015. Medicalnewstoday.com https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506.php
4. Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

© Lorelle Del Matto 2017

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


  1. Hi-just wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner last night and loved it. I was a bit more heavy-handed with the spices, but followed the rest of the directions. I had the leftovers for lunch today with chopped spinach and two eggs (all cooked together in a skillet). Thank you for the recipe!

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