Sweet Potato/Yam

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Lentil Salad & Lemon Tahini Dressing

October 25, 2018
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

When testing a stuffed sweet potato dish for my cookbook, Power Plates, I decided to dress up my go-to combination of sweet potatoes, lentils, and greens a bit. I seasoned the lentils with onions, tomato, and Moroccan-inspired spices—a favorite flavor profile of mine—so that the dish would smell heavenly and taste bold. And I topped it all off with my favorite lemon tahini dressing, which is a recipe that I’ve kept in my repertoire for a decade or more. When making this dish, it’s important to cook the lentils just right; since all lentils cook differently, I like to taste them for doneness as they're cooking. The lentils should hold their shape well, but also be tender. —Gena Hamshaw

Watch This Recipe
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Lentil Salad & Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes 4
  • For the sweet potatoes:
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 cup (200 grams) dried brown or pardina lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste (or 1 teaspoon ground chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups firmly packed baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
  • 1/2 cup lemon tahini dressing (below)
  • Optional toppings: chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh cilantro, snipped fresh chives, or chopped scallions
  • For the lemon tahini dressing:
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. For the sweet potatoes:
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the sweet potatoes on the lined baking sheet and prick each several times with a fork. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until fork-tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the lentils according to their package instructions. Drain well.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Decrease the heat to low and stir in the lentils, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, harissa, and salt, then stir in the spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted, adding water by the 1⁄4 cup if needed to prevent sticking. Stir in the pomegranate molasses. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
  6. Cut each sweet potato in half and use a fork to coarsely mash the flesh, still in the skin. Place two halves on each serving plate and top them with a generous scoop of the lentils. Serve right away, with a drizzle of the tahini dressing and the optional fresh herbs.
  1. For the lemon tahini dressing:
  2. Combine all the ingredients, plus 1/4 cup warm water, in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk until evenly blended. If the dressing is thicker than you’d like, whisk in water by the tablespoonful to achieve the desired consistency. (Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the dressing will keep for 1 week.)

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.