I am slowly coming to the realization that, despite my affinity for cute cafes and the well-placed statement necklace, I am simply not a lady who lunches. I speak far too loudly in public, never remember to silence my phone, and would choose a giant plate of homemade Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Salad over a refined soup or crustless sandwich every afternoon of the week.
I also really love brown bagging.
During my four years working at Target’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, I packed my lunch almost every single day, despite the fact that the office has a stellar cafeteria and was within walking distance of every fast food destination you can imagine.
The less-than-glamorous truth is, while I look forward to going out for date night dinners and happy hours, lunch is a meal that I’ve always preferred to prepare for myself, even when it meant carrying it in a lunch box. I save my extra pennies and splurges for dinners and drinks.
Nearly every weekend of my corporate career, I would lunch prep by making a big pot of grains like quinoa and a batch of roasted seasonal vegetables.
Then, throughout the week, I mixed them with different nuts and proteins to make healthy salads that were tasty, easy to pack, and filling enough to power me through long afternoons of meetings.
A Desk-Worthy Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
This healthy sweet potato quinoa black bean salad is exactly the sort of meal that I can spend all morning looking forward to at my desk.
It’s nutritious, offers a pleasing contrast of textures between the creamy sweet potatoes (which also star in this vegetarian Mexican Salad) and crisp bell peppers, and has enough protein and fiber from the beans and quinoa to keep me full for hours.
The zippy dressing—a tantalizing blend of honey and lime—never fails to perk me right up, even when the weekend still feels far away.
Just like this Quinoa Chickpea Salad, this recipe is quick and easy to prepare and yields enough for several lunches. It’s also a perfect party side dish, because it can be made ahead and tastes great both cold and at room temperature.
Now that I work from home, I don’t need to pack my lunch, but I still looked forward to this sweet potato quinoa black bean salad every day that it was in the refrigerator.
Try it mixed with greens with a handful of pepitas and avocado for lunch, warmed inside a tortilla with cheese for dinner, or simply as it is.
More Satisfying Salad Recipes
- Chickpea Tuna Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta and Mint
- Asian Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing
- Southwest Farro Salad with Corn and Tomatoes
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Salad
- 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes scrubbed and peeled (about 3 small/medium), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 large red onion cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa from 1/2 cup dry
- Zest and juice of 2 limes 3 tablespoons lime juice total
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or substitute honey or light agave nectar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 can reduced sodium black beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 large bell pepper cored and diced
- 3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the cubed sweet potatoes and red onion on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with the chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Toss to coat and spread into a single layer. Bake until the potatoes are just tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the potatoes bake, cook the quinoa (if needed). In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and zest, maple syrup, and garlic (or shake the ingredients together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, black beans, bell pepper, cilantro, and roasted sweet potatoes and onions. Pour the dressing over the top, then toss to combine. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
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