Sweet Potato Arugula Salad – Cookin Canuck

This sweet potato arugula salad is the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. Serve it as a healthy weeknight side dish or save it for a special holiday meal.

Roasted sweet potato and arugula in a wooden salad bowl.

Sweet potato arugula salad brings together the best of sweet and savory. It’s all about those perfectly roasted sweet potatoes, seasoned with cinnamon, maple syrup, and a touch of cayenne pepper, paired with fresh arugula, crunchy almonds, and a homemade maple Dijon dressing that’s just the right amount of zesty.

What makes this salad a winner is the balance it strikes between the creamy sweetness of roasted sweet potatoes and the peppery bite of arugula.

To make it into a healthy dinner salad, add some vegetarian protein, such as chickpeas, cannellini beans or tempeh. For a meatier version, try it with poached chicken or seared shrimp.

Tips for making this recipe

  1. Uniform Cubes: When cutting the sweet potatoes into cubes, aim for uniformity in size. This ensures that they cook evenly, resulting in perfectly caramelized, tender pieces.
  2. Proper Spacing: When roasting the sweet potatoes, be sure not to overcrowd the baking sheet. A single layer ensures even cooking and that desirable crispiness.
  3. Adjust the Spice: The amount of cayenne pepper is a personal preference. Begin with a small pinch, and if you prefer more heat, gradually add more to suit your taste.
  4. Substitution Flexibility: Feel free to customize this salad to your liking. Substitute almonds with walnuts or pecans, or switch out the Parmesan cheese for your favorite cheese variety.
  5. Protein Addition: To make it a complete meal, consider adding grilled chicken, tofu, chickpeas, or quinoa for added protein and satiety.

A note about Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese, often known for its rich, nutty flavor and ability to enhance a wide range of dishes, is a staple in many recipes, including this sweet potato arugula salad. However, when it comes to its vegetarian status, there is an important aspect to consider.

Traditional Parmesan cheese is made using animal rennet. This enzyme is used to coagulate the milk during the cheese-making process. As a result, many people who follow a strict vegetarian diet, which excludes animal-derived ingredients, may choose to avoid Parmesan cheese made with animal rennet.

The good news is that some producers offer Parmesan cheese made with vegetable or microbial rennet instead of animal-based rennet. These alternatives are considered vegetarian-friendly, as they do not involve animal byproducts. When purchasing Parmesan cheese, you can look for labels that specify the use of microbial or vegetable rennet, ensuring that it aligns with your dietary preferences.

If you’re unsure about the type of rennet used in your Parmesan cheese or if it’s not clearly labeled, you can always check with the manufacturer or choose cheese brands that are known to use vegetarian-friendly rennet in their production process. This way, you can enjoy the delicious flavors of Parmesan cheese in your sweet potato arugula salad while maintaining your vegetarian dietary choices.

Overhead photo of a sweet potato arugula salad in a wooden salad bowl.

See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.

Substitutions

▪️ SWEET POTATO: If you prefer, substitute the sweet potato with butternut squash or any combination of sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash. My Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrots would work beautifully in this salad.

▪️ GREENS: Feel free to swap out the arugula with mixed greens, spinach or baby kale.

▪️ NUTS: If you’re not a fan of almonds, you can substitute them with toasted walnuts, pecans, or even pumpkin seeds.

▪️ CHEESE: While Parmesan cheese adds a salty, nutty kick, you can switch it up with crumbled feta or goat cheese. For a vegan version, omit the cheese and sprinkle in some nutritional yeast.

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How to make sweet potato arugula salad

OVEN AND BAKING SHEET: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, with one rack set in the center position and a second rack set in the lowest position. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

PREPARE THE POTATOES: Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into  ¾-inch pieces. Toss them with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper (optional). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.

ROAST THE POTATOES: Roast the sweet potatoes on the center rack for 20 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip the potatoes, returning them to a single layer. Roast on the bottom rack for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown on the bottom side.

THE DRESSING: Make a batch of Maple Dijon Dressing. You’ll need about half of the dressing. Store the rest in the fridge for up to a week.

TOSS: Toss the arugula with toasted almonds and grated Parmesan cheese. Add the sweet potatoes and dressing to the arugula. Toss to combine. Serve it up!

Meal Prep and Storage

The great thing about this salad is that you can prepare many components in advance. Roast the sweet potatoes, toast the almonds, and whisk up the dressing ahead of time. When you’re ready to serve, toss everything together.

Leftovers don’t keep very well because the arugula is quite delicate and tends to become soggy when dressed and stored. It’s to enjoy the salad shortly after dressing it.

What to serve it with

This sweet potato arugula salad can be a meal in itself, but it also makes a fantastic side dish. Try these serving combinations:

Arugula salad with sweet potato in a large wooden salad bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make this salad vegan?

Absolutely! To make this salad vegan, simply omit the Parmesan cheese. To add some cheesy flavor without adding dairy, sprinkle in some nutritional yeast.

Can I use a different type of lettuce instead of arugula?

Of course! While arugula adds a peppery bite, you can use baby spinach, mixed greens or baby kale as a substitute.

Can I use a store-bought salad dressing?

Yes, you can use a store-bought dressing if you’re short on time. However, the homemade Maple Dijon Dressing really enhances the flavors of the salad. If you opt for store-bought, look for a dressing with similar sweet and tangy notes, like a balsamic vinaigrette or a honey mustard dressing.

Other Sweet Potato Recipes

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and comment underneath the recipe card below. Thank you!

Printable Recipe

A wooden salad bowl filled with a sweet potato arugula salad.

Sweet Potato Arugula Salad

This sweet potato arugula salad is the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. Serve it as a healthy weeknight side dish or save it for a special holiday meal.

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