Arugula and Italian Lettuces with Spicy Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Dates, & Cashews

July 3, 2014 § 2 Comments


I bring salads to work for lunch most days. I like things I can eat out of a bowl, and I need a lot of veggies to fill me up. A big salad does the trick! This salad is based off one my favorite salads from a local pizza place which has a nice mix of sweet and savory–dates, candied pecans, sliced red onion and tomatoes are the highlights.


To turn this into a true lunch salad, I add chickpeas for protein, and spicy roasted sweet potatoes. Sometimes I plan ahead and make a vinaigrette, and I’ve included a recipe for a good one below, but oftentimes I just bring a lemon and some olive oil (I like this container) to work to use as dressing. I squeeze the entire lemon into the greens with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and it does the trick. I keep salt and pepper at work, and toss that on as well. If you are going to bring this salad to work, I highly recommend this post by The Kitchn, which has excellent recommendations about how to pack your salad so it won’t get soggy.

This recipe makes one big lunch salad with extra sweet potatoes for the week. I often prep ingredients for a bunch of portions of this salad and store them in a container in the fridge so I can grab and go, but the amounts below are for one salad. The chickpeas, dates, pepperoncinis, sweet potatoes and red onion can be stored in a container together nicely. Its best to keep the avocado, cashews, and tomatoes in their own containers.

Arugula and Italian Lettuces with Spicy Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Dates, & Cashews

  • Servings: 1 large lunch salad, with extra sweet potatoes for the week
  • Print

For the sweet potatoes:

1 large sweet potato or 2 small sweet potatoes

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

(Note: I like my sweet potatoes really spicy so I dial up the amounts here, probably closer to a teaspoon of cayenne, paprika, and chili powder).

For the salad:

Handful of spicy roasted sweet potatoes (see above)

1/2 avocado, cubed

1/3 cup chickpeas

A few (or a lot, depending on your taste) thin slices of red onion

1 date, pitted and sliced (Trader Joe’s has affordable fresh dates)

1/8 cup pepperoncinis, if you like them and have some in your fridge

1/8 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, or other nut of your choice

4-5 sliced cherry tomatoes

2 cups arugula

1 cup crunchier lettuce, like butter lettuce, or radicchio (I like the Italian mixes you can get in a bag at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because sometimes I am a lazy chopper, but I want all the greens)

For the dressing:

Lazy version:

Juice of one lemon and a tablespoon or so of olive oil poured directly onto the salad, plus salt and pepper


(Adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Ina Garten)

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard

scant 1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or juice of one lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Make the sweet potatoes:

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  3. Peel and cut sweet potato into small cubes
  4. Drizzle baking sheet with olive oil
  5. Add sweet potatoes to baking sheet
  6. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Toss to coat (use your hands!)
  7. Roast sweet potatoes for 25-35 minutes, until they are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool somewhat before adding to the salad. As long as you can bear to wait!

Make the vinaigrette, if using:

  1. Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake to combine.

Assemble the salad:

  1. In a large bowl (I like my salads in big bowls to prevent spillage) combine the arugula and other lettuces. Toss with the vinaigrette or the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I find that combining the dressing with just the greens allows me to use a little less and still get full coverage on my greens.
  2. Add the spicy sweet potatoes, avocado, chickpeas, red onion, dates, pepperoncinis if using, cashews, and cherry tomatoes, and toss to combine. Good luck keeping all those treats in the bowl!


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