You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed ( see recipe below), But with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!
Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.
The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.
Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.
The recipe that follows is my own riff on a… Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad
- 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes
Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.
When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
For the salad
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
- 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
- ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.
For the Dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- sea salt to taste
- ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves
Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.
Assembly and Serving
- several large lad leafy salad greens
- ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
- sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
- halved pineapple rings
Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside
Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.
Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.
Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!
Mashed Okinawa Sweet Potatoes
This couldn’t be simpler and absolutely delicious.
- 4 Okinawan sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
- sea salt to taste
Peel the potatoes and cut them into one inch chunks. Put them in a pot and add water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer until the potatoes are soft. Transfer the potatoes to a colander and drain. Then then using either aa potato ricer or a hand mashing tool, mash the potatoes into or in a mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over the mashed potatoes. Add the garlic and salt and, using a silicone spatula, fold the ingredients together without overworking to retain the fluffiness of the potatoes. Taste and season with more salt to taste. That’s all there is to it!