Photo courtesy of pinch&yum
Yes. I’m fully serious. Sweet Potato Noodle Salad.
I have never loved a salad as much as I do in this moment – a salad whose flavor profile (chipotle meets roasted corn meets cilantro) is at absolute the center of my food happy place and whose entire texture and form just mimics a big ol’ plate of pasta. WHAAAT. Now we’re talking, kids. THIS is my kind of salad.
Can I just tell you something right now? Cooking has made me so happy lately. I was kind of having a moment back a while ago where I didn’t love cooking and I DID love takeout and it was kind of weird when it was happening because I have a food blog. It’s my job to keep writing about how much I love food, and of course I would never share recipes with you that I didn’t love or actually make or actually eat for real in my true day to day life, but it was sort of hard to find the soul of the whole cooking gig for a second there. But it’s all good. Because honestly, I think the change of pace (last week we order pizza, and now this week we make fresh sweet potato noodle salads with chipotle dressing and have a slice of homemade orange cake for dessert) is healthy in that sort of greasy-pizza-is-good-for-your-soul-sometimes healthy way. You know what I mean, right? I lost it, I defaulted to sushi and Thai curry and pizza for a few weeks, and then I found it again.
Found it as in SWEET POTATO NOODLE SALAD found it. Ohhh my spicy stars, this is so yummy.
Sometimes you just need to get out of your routine and change things up in order to sort of kick-start the system back into Thrive Mode, right? I’m not the only one?
You know in your heart of hearts that you really want and love food and cooking and/or whatever it might be for the rest of you people in the world who don’t love food and cooking (I mean, I can’t even think of any examples because what do people love if not food?) and then the crazy-busy-stress-go-go-go of life happens and you find yourself sort of dreading making meals and dragging your heels when you feel the pull of the kitchen at 6pm. Or maybe you don’t feel the pull of the kitchen at all. Which is alarming for someone who has always identified as loving food and cooking, but also okay.
A temporary break-up is okay.
For me, it’s totally a stress and anxiety thing, I think. Teaching the workshops in our studio these last few months – it seriously made me come alive in a new way. But when that part of me came alive, my food brain shrunk back. And now the stress and chaos and anxiety of the workshops has faded a little bit, and life has slowed down, and Bjork went out of town for a few days (not that I WANTED him to be gone, but sometimes just cooking whatever you want for your very own self helps get things back in the groove, love u bb) and now I’m feeling like I have my finger back on the pulse of my familiar old cooking heart. Which is still, in fact, beating. ♡
Yours probably is, too. I’m sure of it. And if you’re not sure, I’ll tell you what will make you sure:
It starts with sweet potato noodles and ends with chipotle dressing and cilantro and roasted corn and pepitas.
You know those times when you are so excited about food that you just HAVE to eat dinner at 5pm? Me either, barely, because most night we eat dinner at 8pm.
But last night I got a slice of that Must Eat Dinner Now feeling when I got home a little early from the studio and only had myself to cook for. THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES, friends. Out came the wine and cheese because apparently #SoloHappyHour is a thing? I highly recommend. And just like that, with a big ol plate of Chipotle Sweet Potato Noodle Salad, heavy on the cilantro, I became that person who eats dinner right at the stroke of 5pm.
Now that I think of it, I guess it’s fitting since I’m turning 30 tomorrow like ohmygosh I’m fine tho. So this is old age? Dinner at 5 pm? I guess I can deal.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SWEET POTATO NOODLE SALAD:
2 sweet potatoes, spiralized!
4 ears sweet corn (kernels cut off the cob)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh greens - spinach, micro greens, arugula, whatever
½ cup pepitas
FOR THE CHIPOTLE DRESSING:
⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons water
2 individual chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon agave or honey
juice of one orange
juice of one lemon or lime
generous pinch of salt
- Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potato noodles and toss for a minute or two until softened. See notes.
- Wipe the skillet out so it's dry. Add the corn kernels and turn the heat to medium high. Toss around in the pan every few minutes until roasted-looking. See notes.
- Toss the noodles, corn, cilantro, and pepitas together. Save a little of each ingredient for topping the salad if you want it to be extra pretty.
- Pulse the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to your liking.
- Toss with the salad ingredients and you're good to go!
For cooking the sweet potato noodles: you'll notice a visible texture change when they're ready - they just sort of relax into the pan instead of being so stiff. You don't want them to be overly mushy but you also don't want them to be rock hard and crunchy. Somewhere in between is perfect. For me, 5-ish minutes was about right.
For cooking the corn: this can do a number on your skillet, so make sure you're using a high quality pan - either nonstick or a really well seasoned cast iron. The idea is to DRY roast them without oil or butter. They don't get as browned and roasty if you have to put butter or oil in the pan. Also, the less frequently you stir, the more browned they'll get. I used a nonstick and the bottom of the pan got a little brown but washed out very easily.