South-of-the-Border Sweet Potato Salad

What do you think of our cool, blue margaritas? Amazing color, eh? (recipe follows)
My new blogging friend Paula, from Vintage Kitchen, has it right. Cinco de Mayo is about the party!  (check out her grapefruit-ginger-tequila cocktail!) Margaritas, zesty food, good friends. What more is there?

Cinco de Mayo is big here in Tucson, and our neighborhood had its annual party last weekend to celebrate. It was held poolside - a potluck that included chile relleno casserole, enchiladas, barbecued chicken, gazpacho, guacamole, bean dips, fresh fruit, salads, margaritas and plentiful desserts including tres leches cake, a local favorite.

Master Brazilian guitarists Eduardo and Gabriel played for us (check out Edu's Web site: Guitar Impact) and Gabriel's wife, Valquiria, joined them on vocals for two Brazilian favorites.

All in all it was a lovely evening, as the full moon (a "super moon") rose over the saguaro cacti and palm trees... it was like a scene from a movie.

The potlucks in our neighborhood are not completely luck-based. We assign courses to people by the first initial of their last name. Those who are in A through E bring salads, F through K bring main courses, etc... This ensures that we don't end up with 50 desserts, ... although how bad would that be?? This year I fell into the salad category.

One of my favorite salads based on Mexican flavors is a sweet potato salad with a cilantro-lime-chile dressing. Very tasty and simple to put together. For those who don't like cilantro mint or basil are good substitutions.

What I like most is that the dressing for this salad is its sweetness. The original recipe (maybe Bon Appétit?) used honey but, living here where agaves are native, I realize that agave syrup is much the better choice as it is quite a bit more subtle and very local.

The agave syrup combined with the lime, cilantro and spices is one of those perfect combinations that works just as well on a green salad, or as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Overall, it is also another great recipe for improvisation. When the season is right, I add freshly grilled corn kernels. When not needed for vegetarian palates, I have added sautéed pancetta or bacon. What would you add?

Don't wait till next May to make this for a Cinco de Mayo celebration! It is a great addition to any meal at any time of the year!

¡Buen provecho! 

~ David 

South-of-the-Border Sweet Potato Salad

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
finely grated zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar, or light honey
1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes (don’t overcook or your salad will be mushy and fall apart.) Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing.Whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, honey, chile powder, cumin, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the red bell pepper to the potatoes and toss with the dressing. Season again with salt and pepper. Serve warm or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

Serves 6. 

Blue Margaritas

1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 part blue curaçao
1 1/2 parts silver tequila

Add ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake. Pour into a glass rimmed - or not - with salt.

Makes 1 drink.


  1. Whoa! Such colours David!
    It is a cold and windy night here in Sydney and just looking at that vivid orange of the sweet-potato and imagining those flavours on my tongue has transported me to Tucson! I think I am going to have to make this...
    Will head over to Paula's blog to check out that amazing looking cocktail too!

  2. Thanks, Anna! This can also be served warm in case you need it for a cold and windy night! And the margaritas will help warm you too!

  3. David, I'm not normally drawn to blue drinks,but these drinks are an intoxicatingly blue color -- I'm thirsty looking at them! What a great complement to that brilliant orange salad of sweet potatoes! Another mouth watering post!

  4. Don't you think these margaritas need pretty umbrellas? Thanks, Susan, for being a great fan always...

  5. amazing post! I love the colors and flavours!

  6. David,

    Can relate totally to assigning dishes...why does everyone bring desserts? Many years ago our department had a Holiday Party. Everyone bought one item...many were desserts! I suggested we organize it and I would oversee it...since then we had great holiday lunches...with a variety of dishes.

    The music from the guitarists must have been amazing!

    Wonderful photography!


  7. Thanks, Carmen! I really do think taking some of the luck out of the potluck is a good idea... brave of you to organize, too! The guitarists really added such a great ambiance to the event - we will be having them every year!

  8. David,
    Have been thinking about that sweet potato salad ever since it caught my eye !!! Abeautiful blend of Arizona and Mexico. It looks SO delicious.
    Today I made a copy of it. This week I will assemble the ingredients. I can hardly wait to try it ! Marilyn Newman

  9. Marilyn! So nice of you to comment! It really is a beautiful blend of north and south of the border, isn't it? Please let me know what you think - and, as ever, thanks so much for being a faithful reader!

  10. Hi Marilyn~I hope you will wait for me to come out to California to visit and we can make the salad together!

    David, what else shall we serve? Aside from blue margs, of course?


  11. I recommend serving this with some carne asada... You can't go wrong! I wish I could be with you two when you have it!


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