This arugula salad with sweet potato recipe is brought to us by Diane Kochilas, an award-winning author of 18 cookbooks as well as the host, creator and producer of the PBS show “My Greek Table”. This recipe is featured in her book “Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die”. You can purchase a copy of her cookbook by clicking here. The island of Ikaria has the highest rates of people to live healthfully over 90 years old in the world. It is one of the famous blue zones where the healthiest people live.
Arugula Salad with Sweet Potato by Diane Kochilas
Several farmers on Ikaria mentioned to me the sweet potatoes they remember as children, in the 1940s and ’50s, and that most were grown on the terraced steps in the windswept southern town of Manganitis. My neighbor Titika, for example, recalled the simplest and most desired “dessert” of her youth: “We had sweet potatoes. That’s it. With nothing on them. Just baked under the ashes in the fireplace. What a treat.”
Sweet potatoes were also the tuber of choice for a salad, recounted to me by Myrsina Roussou, native of Manganitis. The addition of goat cheese or feta is mine, and totally optional. The original version is typical of the simple, pared-down dishes that nourished the generation that today is reaching triple-digit ages uniquely sound of mind and body. But the combination of dense, creamy sweet potatoes and sharp, peppery arugula seemed surprisingly sophisticated to me, even though this was the food of dire poverty.
Loving this arugula salad with sweet potato recipe? Try another one of Diane’s traditional Ikarian recipe for soufico!
Also, check out Diane’s article on the food of Ikaria here.
Purchase her cookbook: “Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die” by clicking here.
Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes. Place in a large pot with cold salted water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until fork tender but al dente, about 15 minutes.
Remove, cool slightly, peel (if boiling), and cut into 1 ½ - inch / 4 cm chunks. Transfer to a serving bowl. (Alternatively, you can peel and cube the sweet potatoes and either roast or grill them under the broiler, on a sheet pan tossed with a little olive oil and salt).
Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Of using scallions, trim and cut into thin rounds.
Coarsely chop the arugula.
Place the arugula, and onions or scallions in the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Season to taste with salt and toss with the olive oil and vinegar. If desired. Add the crumbled feta or goat’s milk cheese and serve.
Diane Kochilas is an award-winning author of 18 cookbooks as well as the host, creator and producer of a PBS show called “My Greek Table”. She has appeared on numerous television shows including Throwdown! With Bobby Flay, The Today Show and Martha Stewart. She also runs the Glorious Greek Cooking School on her family’s ancestral island of Ikaria.