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Intro to Cooking: Sweet Potato Salad

Mmmm summer picnics. Is there anything more delightful than packing up your favorite foods and driving to the lake and having a picnic? I don’t think so. That’s what summer is about, my friends. (Well, that and these 25 other things.)

On the downside, a lot of picnic foods are pretty heavy, especially if any kind of barbecue action is involved. Hamburgers? Wow. Hot dogs? Yikes. Potato salad? Uh-huh. It’s nice to indulge… but it would be nice to indulge without having to eat just fruit for the rest of the week, right? Right.

For this week, I decided to write about potato salad, mainly because it is one of my favorite summer foods and because it is generally the most unhealthy of picnic and barbecue foods. And I’m throwing you guys a curveball.

Normal, white potatoes are actually very high in nutrients. It’s not true that all the nutrients are in the skin. The difficulty with potatoes is that if you boil them with exposed flesh, a lot of the nutrients are pulled out into the water. If you boil them whole with the skins on, it takes forever, but the nutrients would be retained. Personally, I’m a big fan of small, yellow potatoes, and so I decided to use those for this recipe. Potatoes cooked with the skin on and consumed with the skin contain 45% of the daily value for vitamin C, as well as lots of potassium (as much as a banana), thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, and iron. Potatoes contain no fat, so on their own, they are reasonably healthy.

Here’s the curveball: I decided to include sweet potatoes (or yams) as well. Why? Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources for vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber, potassium, and iron, all while being around 95 calories for one potato. Sweet potatoes are one of the perfect vegetables. Not only that, they’re freaking delicious.

I also decided to use a dressing that is not mayonnaise or cream-based. It’s less calorie heavy and does better in the heat of summer.

Ready to see what this Sweet Potato Salad has to offer?

Sweet Potato Salad

You’ll need

1-2 sweet potatoes
4-5 yellow potatoes
4-5 tablespoons of Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian) or dressing of your choice
1 cucumber, diced
¼ of a red onion, diced
3-4 stalks of celery

How to make it

1. Wash all the potatoes well and then dry them.

2. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange potatoes on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

3. Remove from oven and allow to cool until they can be handled. In that time, wash the celery. Dice celery, cucumber, and red onion into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.

4. When potatoes are cool, dice into similar sized pieces and add to the bowl as well. Toss lightly. One tablespoon at a time, add Italian dressing (or the dressing of your choice) until lightly covered.

5. Store in the fridge for 1-2 hours until cool. Spoon into individual Chinese takeout containers and pack into your picnic basket!

Note: This salad lasts for about 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

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  • Michelle - College of IdahoCOLLEGECANDY Writer