A Summery Fall Salad

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Well, it is officially November. I am not entirely sure where October went. Actually, I am not entirely sure where fall went either, because the heating lamps at the L stations are on  and I’m layering up like crazy. If anyone has ever lived in Chicago or visited during our lovely winter, you know that we have a few extra seasons here in the Windy City. There is fall, which lasts about a month, then about half way through November it might as well be winter, then you get to December and it is “super winter”, and as of last year, January became polar vortex season. Spring is also kind of none existent. After January, you kind of back track through super winter and regular winter, and then you wake up some day in May and its like, “Oh hey, I can wear shorts today!” That reminds me Mr. Landlord, either the radiators are broken, or that switch needs to get switched on and not touched for the next 5 months. Please and thank you!

Right! Now that I have talked about the unending chilliness, lets talk about the good stuff… FOOD! This post today is about a deliciously fall salad that reminds me of the sunshine. It is a recipe I found on a, surprise surprise, amazing food blog. Love & Lemons is a blog that warms me up by just reading it. It is another blog that focuses on healthy recipes, and quinoa being ever present in my apartment, this salad recipe was begging to be made. I will start by saying that this is a nice dense salad. If a salad is going to be all I’m eating before I head out the door or hit the hay, it has to be filling. It may be that I am a 6’3″ guy in his twenties that has the metabolism of a hummingbird.. but green salads by themselves don’t do the job.

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The salad incorporates yummy fall flavors, but it totally reminds me of summer. There are just so many colors! Bright green arugula and cilantro, red quinoa, orange sweet potato, and the scallions just add a nice pop when you look at it.. and eat it!
Also, roasted pepitas, those need to be kept around for nibbling whether you have the salad or not. They are a perfect snack.

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Sweet Potato, Quinoa Salad
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Olive oil
1 whole poblano pepper
1/4 cup scallions
Handful of arugula or baby greens
Salt
A few sprigs of cilantro
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Dressing
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, about 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder (I used chipotle)
a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
pinch of salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Put the whole poblano pepper in the center of the baking sheet. Roast the potatoes and pepper in the oven until the potatoes are golden brown on the top, or easily punctured with a fork. The pepper should be getting black spots as well. This should take around 20 minutes, but my oven is a little funny and this can take around 30 – 35 minutes, so don’t worry if it takes a little longer.
While those are roasting, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar, cover and shake. If you don’t have a mason jar on hand, this  can easily be whisked together in bowl. Set the dressing aside. Place the raw pepitas into a dry skillet over medium heat with a few pinches of salt. Toast for a few minutes and remove from heat.
Once the sweet potato and pepper are done roasting, remove from the oven and let sit until you can touch the pepper with your hands. Remove the ribbing and seeds from the pepper and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Toss potatoes, pepper, quinoa and arugula together with half the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed.
Garnish with scallions, cilantro, and toasted pepitas.

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