Shake up your summertime meals with this savory and delicious Sweet Potato Pasta Salad. This hearty side dish is packed with a flavorful crunch and tied together with a homemade poppy seed dressing.
Sweet Potato Pasta Salad
Transform your summertime meals and picnics with a twist on classic potato salad. This sweet potato pasta salad is a refreshing departure from tradition. Ditching regular potatoes for peeled and cubed sweet potatoes is the game-changer here. Roasted to perfection in the oven, these sweet potato cubes with their beautifully browned exterior, offer a unique alternative to the creamy texture of conventional potato salad.
While the sweet potatoes roast, whip up the poppy seed dressing that’s lighter, brighter, and sweeter than the typical mayo-based dressing found in regular potato salads. The dressing brings out the best in this unconventional creation.
Related: Italian Pasta Salad
To make this salad even heartier and more enticing, a generous handful of red onion, shredded carrots, and broccoli are added. The perfect crunch, comes from walnut halves and dried cranberries contribute a hint of sweetness.
To crown this star of the show, a healthy addition of shredded Parmesan harmonizes all the flavors and textures into one perfect whole. The beauty of this sweet potato pasta salad lies in its versatility—it’s a robust and satisfying side dish alongside your favorite grilled fare, yet substantial enough to stand on its own as a meatless meal.
Related: Rainbow Macaroni Salad
Serve the salad slightly chilled straight from the refrigerator, and you’ll find it maintains its composure at room temperature as well. So, whether you’re attending a BBQ or picnic, this salad is destined to steal the spotlight.
Fall Pasta Salad: Why You’ll Love This Recipe
As the seasons transition from summer to fall, the sweet potato pasta salad effortlessly transitions with them, making it the perfect fall pasta salad. Its unique blend of flavors and textures resonates perfectly with the changing autumnal atmosphere, making it a versatile dish for various occasions. Here are some events where I think this salad will really shine:
- Back to School: As the school year kicks off, this sweet potato pasta salad becomes an excellent addition to any back-to-school event with a fall theme.
- Harvest Parties: With the arrival of fall comes the celebration of bountiful harvests. The vibrant colors of sweet potatoes and shredded carrots in the salad reflect the season’s rich harvest palette, making it an ideal dish to share at harvest-themed gatherings.
- Tailgating: As football season gets underway, this salad is the perfect tailgating side dish. This salad’s ability to hold up well at room temperature makes it a great addition to tailgate parties.
- Halloween: Halloween parties and gatherings, as a hearty pre-trick-or-treat side dish.
- Cold Salad for Thanksgiving: This salad complements the traditional Thanksgiving spread with its sweet and savory flavor. The combination of roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries, and walnuts brings a seasonal touch to the table.
- Fall Potlucks: This sweet potato pasta salad will undoubtedly stand out at your next fall season potluck. Its unconventional take on pasta salad and mix of autumn-inspired ingredients are seasonal perfection.
- Seasonal Comfort: As the weather cools, we crave heartier comfort foods. This pasta salad, is a comforting, nourishing option without feeling heavy.
- Versatile Side Dish: This fall pasta salad pairs perfectly with a wide array of main courses, whether it’s roasted turkey, baked chicken, grilled sausages, or even veggie burgers for the vegetarians at the table.
- Make-Ahead Dish: With the busy holiday season approaching, having a make-ahead dish like this sweet potato pasta salad is a lifesaver. Prepare it in advance, and it will be ready to serve for various fall occasions without much hassle.
Customizing Your Sweet Potato Pasta Salad
Feel free to mix and match these ingredients based on your preferences or the occasion, and don’t hesitate to experiment with other additions as well. With such a versatile base, the sweet potato pasta salad is easily transformed into a plethora of creations. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian or protein-packed salad, the possibilities are endless. Here are some ideas:
- Pecans: Add crunch and nutty flavor that complements the sweet potatoes and cranberries.
- Pine nuts: Another excellent nutty option with a more delicate texture.
- Chickpeas: Will help boost the protein content and add a creamy texture, making the salad more filling and substantial
- Spinach/Kale: Fresh, leafy greens add to the salad’s nutritional value.
- Fresh basil: Adds an aromatic and herbaceous note.
- Mozzarella balls: Brings a creamy and milky flavor to the mix.
- Feta cheese: Add a salty and tangy kick, perfectly complementing the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.
- Goat cheese: Introduce a distinct and creamy flavor that goes so well with roasted sweet potatoes.
- Hard salami: For a meatier option, include slices of hard salami to enhance the salad’s savory character.
- Chicken: Transforms this salad into a protein-rich main course.
- Salmon: Add flakes of smoked or grilled salmon for a unique seafood twist.
What Dressing Can I Use Instead of Poppy Seed?
Any vinaigrette will work as long as it’s one of your favorites. Here’s a recipe for my favorite lemony vinaigrette that also works really well with this salad:
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk or shake the vinaigrette vigorously until all the ingredients are well combined and the dressing has a smooth consistency.
Store salad in an airtight container for up to three days. If the pasta salad becomes dry you can add more dressing to it by either making more of the poppy seed dressing or using a store-bought option. If you make this salad ahead of time, hold off on adding the dressing until just before serving.
More Side Salad Recipes to Enjoy
Here are more side salad recipes that are bursting with freshness and flavor, the perfect companions to any meal.
- Panzanella, the perfect harmony of flavors between crusty, day old bread and juicy, summer tomatoes.
- This cauliflower salad takes the place of your usual potato and pasta salads and has everyone coming back for second and even third helpings.
- Bacon broccoli salad is one the best side dishes for any upcoming potluck.
- Refreshing and healthy, this cucumber feta salad is one of the simplest to put together.
- Avocado bean salad that’s ready in minutes.
Summer Sun to Fall Fun
As the seasons change and you find yourself serving up this hearty salad, don’t forget to snap a photo and tag @NOBLEPIG and #noblepig on INSTAGRAM. Let me know how much you love it.
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How to Make Sweet Potato Pasta Salad
Sweet Potato Pasta Salad
Sweet Potato Pasta Salad:
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4' cubes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 16 oz. tri-colored rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets (you may need to chop to get them this size)
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin) seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Place sweet potato pieces on a large baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4' cubes, 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse pasta with cool water nd set aside to completely cool down.16 oz. tri-colored rotini pasta
- While pasta is cooking, slice the onion and peel and grate the carrots.1/2 cup sliced red onion, 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- To a large mixing bowl, add pasta, red onion, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, walnuts, cranberries, cheese and pepitas.3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets (you may need to chop to get them this size), 1 cup walnut halves, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin) seeds
- In a small bowl add all the dressing ingredients and mix until fully combined.3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2-1/2 tbsps. poppy seeds, 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. table salt
- Pour dressing over salad and toss until fully coated.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for an hour. (It can be cold, but you don't want it ice cold at serving time.)
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