Sweet-Potato Salad

A plate of sweet potato salad sprinkled with cracked pepper, chopped parsley, and pickled pepper relish

Chef Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina, says that even people who claim to hate sweet potatoes love this salad. Ben uses a homemade pepper relish, but you can use a commercial one. The recipe is from Not Afraid of Flavor: Recipes from Magnolia Grill, by Ben and Karen Barker (University of North Carolina Press, 2000).–Debbie Moose

Sweet-Potato Salad

A plate of sweet potato salad sprinkled with cracked pepper, chopped parsley, and pickled pepper relish
Not a fan of sweet potatoes? This dish just might change your mind. Feel free to use a pre-made pepper relish if you're short on time or don't feel like making it.
Debbie Moose

Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr
8 to 10 servings
224 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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For the pickled pepper relish

  • 1 cup green bell pepper seeded, stemmed, and cut into small dice
  • 1 1/2 cups red bell pepper seeded, stemmed and cut into small dice
  • 1 medium red onion cut into small dice
  • 6 ounces cider vinegar
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 dried chipotles halved and seeded (optional)

For the potato salad

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup Pickled Pepper Relish with juice (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves


Make the relish

  • Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed, and chipotles, if desired, to the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • To can the relish, ladle it into 2 hot pint jars and fill to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Wipe the rim, seal the lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Start timing after the water bath reaches full boil.
  • Check to be sure the jars are securely sealed. The relish will keep for up to 6 months.
  • If you prefer to skip the canning, this relish can be refrigerated for up to 3 months, covered, in clean, sterile containers. This recipe can be scaled up easily but be cautious with the chipotles.

Make the potato salad

  • Cook the sweet potatoes in salted water until done but still firm. Plunge them in ice water to stop them from cooking and drain well.
  • Combine the relish, garlic, and Dijon mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, as well as salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
  • Fold in the sweet potatoes and Italian parsley and toss gently. Keeps refrigerated for 2 days. Serve at room temperature.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 224kcal (11%)Carbohydrates: 38g (13%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 545mg (24%)Potassium: 529mg (15%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 17192IU (344%)Vitamin C: 57mg (69%)Calcium: 51mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I made this salad to go with a mesquite smoked brisket I cooked up over the weekend, and it really is phenomenal. The relish recipe makes more than double what you need, so I halved it. I won’t do this next time because the relish alone is delicious and will go great on a sandwich, hot dog, or a chicken breast. The sweetness of the potatoes really worked very well with the tart dressing and the peppery sweet relish. As an accompaniment to a smoked piece of fatty brisket, this is a superb dish. Too bad I had no leftovers since my guests made sure to polish off the whole thing!

I was attracted to this recipe in part because it included a homemade pickled relish, and homemade pickling or fermenting is of particular interest to me. The salad is excellent and the relish could stand alone, as it will be useful with or without the salad. I’l make the salad again, and I’ll also separately make the relish again.

This salad enlivened a brunch menu, where it was a colorful side dish alongside other vegetable sides supporting a main entrée dessert frittata with lemon and almond. In addition to adding color, it was far more interesting than a standard breakfast potato, such as hash browns. It would also be delicious as part of a lunchtime salad plate or as an accompaniment to a summertime barbecue and the chipotles suggest the possibility of including it in a Mexican- or Southwest-themed meal.

Vegetarians note: Worcestershire sauce, in its traditional form, is not vegetarian, as it contains anchovies. Vegetarian “Worcestershire sauce,” is available at natural foods stores as well as Kosher markets. Acceptable substitutes include soy sauce or steak sauce. Alternately, there are recipes for a vegetarian version online. Since the recipe states, “Worcestershire sauce to taste,” it could be omitted entirely without significant detriment to the finished salad.

Originally published June 08, 2009


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