Last week and throughout this past weekend, I spent several days hanging out with food and cocktail bloggers and members of the Dole Packaged Foods team. Ally from Ally’s Kitchen was in town again to complete another handful of projects as this year’s Dole Social Media Ambassador, including shooting recipe videos and MC’ing this year’s Dole Cookoff. Ally won last year’s Cookoff, and we initially met during March’s Dole Blogger Summit. She is one of the most exuberant and friendly people I’ve ever met, and her love for cooking is the cherry on top. The 2014 Dole Cookoff is over, and a new person sits on Ally’s throne. I served as a sous chef for Naylet LaRochelle whose Breezy Indian Spiced Chicken with Mango Peanut Sauce, Dates and Grilled Mango took the $25,000 prize. I can’t wait to share that experience with you, but now…it’s all about this salad.
This salad has been in my “to write” pile for more than two months. It was most likely during the time of a little “cleanse”–one of those mini breaks from the heavy food and drinks that often find their way into the life of a food blogger and cook. It is bright and vibrant, as well as high in nutrients, thanks to the rich, colorful rainbow chard and orange sweet potatoes. It also incorporates two Dole ingredients I had on hand after the Blogger Summit, which left my pantry and freezer stocked with products. Dole’s whole pitted dates and 100% fruit juice from a Mandarin orange snack cup were the silent stars of the salad and vinaigrette, respectively. The dates provided additional sweetness alongside the sweet potatoes, and the fruit juice added a light, fruity flavor to the dressing. Whether you’re on a cleanse or just looking for another healthy meal to add to the mix, this vegetarian and vegan-friendly, gluten-free salad is a winner.
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½″ pieces
- 2 large bunches rainbow swiss chard, stems removed & thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ⅓ cup whole pitted dates, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons leftover 100% fruit juice (from Dole Mandarin orange cup)*
- ½ cup grapeseed oil, plus more for cooking the sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potato chunks with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes. Toss halfway through. Remove from the oven, and cool slightly.
- While the potatoes cook, pour the champagne vinegar, Mandarin orange juice, grapeseed oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper into a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- In a large serving bowl, lightly mix the cooked sweet potatoes and swiss chard. Sprinkle the almonds and dates on top, then dress with about half of the vinaigrette. Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.
Disclaimer: Dole Foods provided travel and accommodations for Cookoff participants, but all opinions are my own.