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On paper, yams (a.k.a. sweet potatoes) should make a great-tasting salad with a gorgeous golden color. However, my first attempts turned out mushy and cloyingly sweet. The answer to the problem turned out to be to use a combination of roasted yams with boiled potatoes (peeled after boiling, for the same reason), and a brightly acidic lemon vinaigrette to balance the sugary yams. Mint supplies a fresh note, but cilantro or parsley can be substituted. Use medium potatoes so they cook evenly and with relative speed.
Make Ahead: The salad can be prepared up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated
- 2-1/2 pounds medium orange-fleshed yams, such as Louisiana, jewel, or garnet, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
- 1-1/4 cups plus tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin, which may be too rich), divided
- 3 pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 4 celery ribs, chopped
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, cilantro, or parsley
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Toss the yam chunks with 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the chunks are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 45 minutes. Cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks.
3. Combine the lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the oil to make a thick vinaigrette.
4. Mix the yams, potatoes, celery, scallions, and mint in a large bowl. Toss with about three-fourths of the vinaigrette. Separately cover the salad and remaining vinaigrette and refrigerate both until the salad is chilled, at least 3 hours. (The salad and vinaigrette can be made up to 1 day ahead.)
5. Just before serving, toss the salad with the remaining vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled.