quinoa with sweet potatoes red pepper feta

Quinoa with sweet potatoes, red pepper and feta

5 August 2013

It’s summer, but sweet potatoes are a dream pairing for a quinoa salad. Harvested after a long, warm growing season, sweet potatoes are associated with fall and Thanksgiving here in the United States. But in the tropics, sweet potatoes are a year-round staple, a cultivated crop as ancient as quinoa.

In this combo, the soft sweetness of sweet potato harmonizes with quinoa’s gentle crunch, and sweet red peppers and parsley (or basil, or mint) add freshness. And for me, everything is better with feta.

This is versatile summer cooking – a grain salad that is satisfying warm or cold, alongside anything off the grill, over a bed of fresh or cooked greens, or simply spooned out of a big bowl. Cook it once, eat it over a few days. And relax, because it’s August.

Before I get to the recipe, the results of my blogiversary giveaway:

  • Winner 1: Commenter #24 – Patricia
  • Winner 2: Commenter #9 – Gaill
  • Winner 3: Commenter #6 – Barbara

I’m sending one trio of St Dalfour preserves to New York, one copy of Mother Daughter Me to the Pacific Northwest, and one pretty bracelet to Florida. I love feeling like Santa Claus! Thanks to all for entering. I treasure each of your comments and have responded to every one.

This recipe by Mark Bittman had everything I wanted in a quinoa salad, though I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of boiling them.

roasted sweet potatoes

Quinoa cooks up just like rice, easy and fluffy.

cooked quinoa

Add diced red pepper and the roasted sweet potatoes.

red pepper sweet potato

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and some diced onion. I soak the onion in water first to take away some of the bite.

dressing quinoa salad

Feta and herbs last. If you are making ahead, you can make the salad first and add cheese and herbs before serving.

feta and parsley

I made a double batch for a big family party.

quinoa with sweet potatoes

And lived happily ever after on the leftovers.

quinoa with sweet potatoes red pepper feta

I like using quinoa these days as a gluten-free option. For those of you new to quinoa (keen-wah), I have some more details on quinoa preparation in this quinoa arugula salad post. And I also have a quinoa with roasted vegetables recipe featuring classic summer vegetables.

Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Red Peppers and Feta
A happy combination of two ancient crops, soft sweet potato and crunchy quinoa, that goes well with anything grilled or makes a substantial vegetarian dish on its own. Adapted from the ever-reliable Mark Bittman.


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (about 2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2-4 tablespoons minced onion or shallot
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (or chives, basil, or mint)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting sweet potatoes

Dressing ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch dice. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until fork tender.
  3. While sweet potatoes cook, rinse quinoa in a mesh colander for a two or three minutes under running water. Place drained quinoa in medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil and turn to a very low simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Mince onion and red pepper. Chop herbs. Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Add sweet potatoes, red pepper, onion and dressing to quinoa and mix well. Adjust seasonings as needed. Before serving, add feta and herbs and mix gently.

Makes 4-6 servings.


  • For a vegan version, omit feta.
  • To reduce the raw onion bite: soak chopped onions in cold water first.
  • Sweet potato cooking alternative: Bittman boils the diced sweet potatoes (15 minutes, covered, in salted water).
  • Bittman’s Southwestern variation: Add 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced, to the mix. For the dressing, use freshly squeezed lime juice in place of the vinegar and add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, chili powder, or hot red pepper flakes. Use cilantro in place of the parsley. Add 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim Monsalve 5 August 2013 at 9:06 am

Yummy! Can not wait to try.


Brooke 19 August 2013 at 3:26 pm

I found purple sweet potatoes at the store and once this dish was made with red and orange peppers, it looked like a rainbow! I used olive oil and lemon instead of the balsamic vinegar because I was out and it was a crowd pleaser. Thanks again for another lovely recipe to add to the rotation CG.


cg 21 August 2013 at 10:32 am

hi brooke – ooh, that sounds fantastic. color is always good!


plasterers bristol 25 June 2015 at 5:46 am

Yummy, this sounds so good. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.



Brooke 10 August 2015 at 7:45 pm

This is an amazing salad. How have I not made it until now?!


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