The countdown has officially begun! I have just 3 months left out of my 10-month dietetic internship (and am in desperate need of a vacation!), which means I am getting that much closer to becoming a registered dietitian! My program is divided into 3 parts: clinical, business/management, and community. All I have left is the community portion.
As I look back, the American Botanical Council rotation is one that immediately jumps to the forefront of my mind. It is where I learned about herbs and plants, visited local farms, and soaked up some much-needed vitamin D while planting all kinds of deliciousness in the garden. Carrots, leeks, beets…I’m coming back for you!
(This gorgeous broccoli made it home with me!)
During my time there, I gave a presentation on arugula, which just so happened to be in need of harvesting in their beautiful garden. The fact that most of the staff had never tried arugula surprised and excited me at the same time. Not only was I introducing them to a new ingredient, but it’s the “salad rocket” of all things! How could that not leave a lasting impression?
I shared arugula’s history, health benefits, and current research. Here’s a brief summary:
• Nickname: rucola, salad rocket – upon one bite, you’ll understand why. It delivers an explosion of flavor when consumed.
• Flavor: aromatic, peppery, nutty, slightly mustard-like. The longer the leaf, the more peppery the kick.
• The ancient Romans and Egyptians considered it a potent aphrodisiac, and it was used to “restore vigor to the genitalia.” (Gotta love food history!)
• Modern herbalists recommend it to improve digestion.
• It is actually a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes broccoli and
brussel sprouts. Therefore, it contains powerful antioxidant and cancer-protective phytochemicals called glucosinolates.
• It is also a great source of vitamins A, C and K, folate, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, potassium, copper, iron, and zinc.
Of course, you can’t just talk about an ingredient without offering a taste of it. So I made a quick & easy Chipotle Sweet Potato Arugula Salad, a perfect make-ahead salad! The hardest part of this recipe is preparing and roasting the sweet potatoes. Simply place the sweet potato mixture in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. You can reheat it if you prefer it warm or serve it as is.
If you’re pressed for time but want to add nutrients and some extra oomph to a dish, befriend arugula. In fact, the less cooked it is, the better its flavor and the more health-promoting compounds it will retain.
Simply toss it into salads, soups, and pasta; add it to sandwiches instead of lettuce or spinach; make pesto substituting it for the classic basil; and it pairs great with whole grains and cheese.
This dish was a HUGE hit with the staff, and I have a feeling it will be with you and your loved ones as well!
Enjoy this Chipotle Sweet Potato & Arugula Salad for a light lunch or dinner side dish! Tweet this
Chipotle Sweet Potato Arugula Salad
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 7 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1 Tbs adobo sauce
- 1 chipotle pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (9 oz) package baby arugula
- crumbled goat cheese
- 1-2 avocados, diced
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine sweet potatoes and 1 Tbs olive oil; toss to coat; arrange on a baking pan and bake for 25-30 min or until tender.
Sprinkle 1/8 tsp salt over nuts, toss, and roast on a baking pan for 10 min or until toasted, stirring once.
Combine 1 Tbs olive oil, vinegar, honey, adobo, chipotle pepper, and cumin in a bowl, and stir to create dressing.
Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tsp oil to pan. Add garlic and sautée about 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, 3/8 tsp salt, pepper, and beans; cook until heated through, 3-5 min. Remove from heat and stir in 3 Tbs adobo dressing. Toss to coat.
Combine remaining dressing and arugula, and toss to coat. Top with bean mixture. Top with nuts, avocado, and cheese.