Spicing, roasting, crumbling, tossing; this straightforward salad recipe brings together the flavors of the Near and Middle East with ingredients closer to home. The spice mix is the most versatile aspect and this recipe makes enough for multiple uses in multiple dishes.

Middle East Inspired Sweet Potato Salad

by Kesar Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 minutes  |  Cook Time: 30 minutes  |  Serves: 6


The spice blend:

  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 small lemon, plus extra for dressing
  • Grapeseed or light olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, cut into quarters, layers separated
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1”chunks
  • 1 cup of just-cooked green lentils
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic chives (if available or sub regular chives and ½ finely minced garlic clove)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of raisins
  • 4-5 dried apricots or dried figs, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping cup lightly torn salad greens (optional)


Step I

Prepare the spice blend by mixing all the spices, seasonings, sugar and herbs together in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake and store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use. (It is advisable to make the spice blend x2 or x3 so it can be used multiple times.)

Step II

Preheat oven to 400F

Take about ⅔ of the spice blend and mix it with the juice of a small lemon and enough grapeseed oil to make a thin paste of easy pouring consistency. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the oil for the lentils.

Marinating the sweet potatoes and onion separately, toss each one with enough of the remaining spice oil to coat well. If you want the flavor profile to be more heavily spiced, sprinkle over a little more of the spice blend and mix again until it is as well coated as you desire.

Spread on 2 separate, lined, sheet pans. The veggies should be in a single layer, with a little space, to ensure even roasting and good caramelization.

First put in the sweet potatoes and set the timer for 30 minutes. When 15 minutes have elapsed put the tray of onions in to join the sweet potatoes. Roast together for the remaining time or until sweet potatoes are tender and both are nicely caramelized in spots.

Step III

While the veggies roast, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.

  • Cook the lentils in boiling, well salted water for about 15 minutes or until they are cooked and tender. Do not allow them to go mushy. Drain and toss in 1-2 teaspoons of the spiced oil
  • Prepare the cheese, herbs, nuts and dried fruits
  • Prepare the salad leaf of your choice

Step IV

Once the roasted veggies have cooled slightly, toss them together with all the other salad ingredients. Dress with a simple spritz of fresh lemon juice, a glug of good quality, peppery extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Aleppo Pepper flakes or any other Middle Eastern red pepper flake.

Enjoy as is or with a piece of grilled chicken on the side.


*You can also roast other seasonal vegetables along with or instead of the sweet potatoes such as red bell peppers, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, etc.

Thanks to Kesar Kitchen for this amazing recipe.

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