Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bacon and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

There is nothing I love more than the perfect combination of salty and sweet. A few years ago, my husband and I invited our soon-to-be couple best friends over for dinner. I had pork loin on hand and was looking for the perfect sweet-ish accompaniment. For a few years, I had been making a roasted potato salad that I made by roasting white potatoes and tossing them with my balsamic vinaigrette, some feta crumbles and torn basil leaves. It was, and is, amazing because it is so well balanced. Salty and briny from the feta. Sweet and tangy from the vinaigrette. Earthy and starchy from the potatoes. Herbaceous and sweet from the basil. 

I wanted a similar vibe but with a sweeter base. Enter sweet potatoes! Once roasted, I tossed them in the same vinaigrette that I used in my other potato salad but decided to substitute the salty feta with smoky and amazing bacon and the basil with green onion. One bite and my bestie declared, "This is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!" This may be the dish that sealed the deal with our friendship.

When my friends hosted a potluck 4th of July BBQ this summer, I knew that I had to make the dish that brought us together! And yes, I did get another "this is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth" from a fellow America-loving, BBQ-goer!

Before we begin here is a picture of the cute one, covered in ice cream, at our BBQ!

Bacon and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
*This served as a side dish for approximately 10 people
 8 garnet sweet potatoes, chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
7 T olive oil [canola or veggie would work fine too]
1 pound of bacon, chopped into 1" pieces
6 green onions, diced

1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp brown mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of oil evenly over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Divide the chopped sweet potatoes evenly between the two sheets. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss with your hands to coat with the oil. 
 Roast the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Swap the positions of the baking sheets in the oven and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and slightly browned. Pay no attention to mine getting a little "more than brown" on one side.
While the potatoes are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan [if using less than a 12" pan, you might want to do it in 2 batches]. Add the bacon pieces and saute over medium heat until just brown and crispy. Once crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and let cool and drain on a paper towel lined plate. 

Make the vinaigrette by placing the garlic, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stirring together with a fork.
Add the vinegar to the mixture and stir to combine. Stream in the olive oil and whisk with the fork until combined.

Once all of your ingredients are cooked and prepped, simply toss the potatoes, bacon, green onion and vinaigrette together. Serve immediately. If you need to wait a little bit before serving, like if you have to transport the dish to a potluck BBQ, place the vinaigrette in the bottom of your serving bowl, top with the sweet potatoes and then top the potatoes with the chopped green onion and bacon. Toss right before serving [it tastes best when the bacon is still crispy and hasn't absorbed a bunch of vinaigrette].

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the fully tossed salad because I was too busy eating a delicious 4th of July hamburger. I hope that this becomes a summer side staple for you!