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Hawaiian sweet potato salad {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Hawaiian sweet potato salad. #vegetarian #glutenfree

A longtime reader who I met when his wife took a cooking class from me, Ken retired to Hawaii several years ago. Recently he wrote to say he thought we needed some Hawaiian recipes in the American Regional Recipes section of The Perfect Pantry, and to help me get started, he sent several locally-published cookbooks. Hawaiian cuisine is really a crossroads of all of the cultures who've settled on the islands: Asian, Polynesian, native Hawaiian, and many former military folks from all around the United States. I've been having a great time reading through the books, marking all of the dishes I want to try. It's almost impossible to get authentic Hawaiian ingredients here in New England; however, many recipes can be adapted to what's locally available, like this one, which calls for Okinawan sweet potatoes. A bit of research taught me that Okinawan potatoes are a particular variety -- with purple flesh! I substituted our regular sweet potatoes, which I know everyone can buy in the market. Make this potato salad several hours ahead, to allow the flavors to blend, and serve it as a side dish with grilled beef, pork or chicken.

Hawaiian sweet potato salad, with ginger and lime. #glutenfree #vegetarian

Hawaiian sweet potato salad

From the pantry, you'll need: fresh ginger root, lime, plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, curry powder, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

I used my electric pressure cooker to cook the potatoes; you can boil them on the stovetop in a Dutch oven instead.

Recipe adapted from Hurry Up and Wait: Hawaii's Favorite Recipes for the Pressure Cooker and the Slow Cooker. Serves 4-6.


3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into very large chunks
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sweet curry powder
1/2 tsp agave nectar (optional)
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
Fresh black pepper, to taste


Place the potatoes in the pressure cooker with 1 cup of water. Cook on High Pressure for 3 minutes, then Quick Release the pressure. Remove the potatoes from the cooker and set aside to cool while you make the rest of the salad.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ginger, lime juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and curry powder. Taste the sauce, and add agave nectar if you'd like it a bit sweeter.

Add to the sauce the diced celery and red pepper. Then, gently fold in the slightly cooled sweet potato. Add a pinch of black pepper.

Refrigerate the potato salad for several hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld. Taste again before serving, and add more pepper or some kosher salt, to taste.

Serve chilled.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More potato side dishes:
French potato salad
Roasted potatoes with lemon thyme vinaigrette
Potato salad with sesame dressing
Warm potato, fennel and onion salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sweet potato curry hummus, from Naturally Ella
Baked curry sweet potato fries, from Joy the Baker
Smashed potatoes with curry sauce, from White on Rice Couple
Curried coconut and sweet potato soup, from Dishing Up the Dirt
Crockpot red lentil and sweet potato soup with curry and coconut milk, from Kalyn's Kitchen


Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm always intrigued by Hawaiian food because it has elements of Asian cooking and uses their local produce which seems exotic at times. Hawaii is one of my all time favorite places so I'm especially excited to see this recipe.

Jeanette, I've been having lots of fun reading through the cookbooks, and have a few more recipes on tap to share here. Many are Asian-inspired. The cuisine is fascinating, a real combination of all of the influences of people who have moved to the island as well as native Hawaiian.

yummy sounding recipe. thanks.
i have a question to improve my understanding. in the ingredients list, you said to cut the sweet potatoes into very large chunks. as i was reading the instructions, i kept looking to see when you would handle them again, to cut them into bite sized chunks. i may cut them in bite sized chunks to start with, like my mom always did with regular potato salad.
also, since i don't have a pressure cooker at the time, what the desired level of doneness was for the sweet potatoes? you wouldn't want them so cooked they are mushy, i guess that a bit of firmness, but not crunchiness, would be the goal.

Janis, if you start with the potatoes in large chunks, you allow for some falling apart into small chunks when the potatoes are cooked. If you cut them too small to begin with, they will definitely turn to mush right away when you mix them with other ingredients. Try cutting the potatoes into 6 pieces when you cook them on the stovetop (or in the pressure cooker); then, when they are cooked you can chop them to the desired size. The potatoes are done when you can stick a knife into them easily (same as regular potatoes).

I'm glad to see the mayo in this salad--that was the trick to sushi I learned while living in Hawaii--adding a dab of mayo when I was rolling up my rice.
I've just harvested a 40+ pound volunteer pumpkin from my garden so the sweet potatoes can't be far behind.

Kirsten, I'm so surprised at how many of the recipes in these cookbooks have mayo in them, and now you've confirmed that it's used in so many Hawaiian dishes. I've never heard of using it in sushi rice!


Mahalo (Thank you) for using one of the recipes from the books sent. Happy you like the books; enjoy them all! In Hawaii the standard mayo of choice is “Best Foods” (west coast) and the locals drown foods in the mayo which is “Hellman’s” (east coast) made by same company. The other mayo used is Japanese “Kewpie mayo”. Hawaiian food products can be found in Hispanic, Portuguese, European, Organic and Asian specialty supermarkets. 97% of the foods grown in Hawaii are foreign to the islands and not native. Try Whole Foods for Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. There are many Hawaiian food websites supporting Hawaiian expats that have moved to the mainland and 9th official Hawaiian Island (Las Vegas). 100% Hawaiian Kauai coffee (blue bag with hula girl) is sold in Shaws Supermarket, Star Market and Big Y Supermarket. Hawaii is one of the largest ethnic melting pots in the nation and there are over 35 foreign embassies and consulates in Honolulu. We dine on Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and cuisine from every other nation in the world in Hawaii. Hawaii has a 365-day growing cycle for organic produce and gets four harvests of sweet corn a year verses one on the mainland.

Ken, you're making all of us want to move to Hawaii! Thanks again for introducing me to the island cuisines; I'll be sharing more recipes here in the next few months.

How delicious! I'm not much on traditional potato salad, but this looks great, Lydia!

Shirley, potato salad is a must for summer barbecues, and this one makes a nice change from the usual.

Mmmm I gave see how the spices as well as the tanginess of the yogurt and lime would go so well with sweet potato! Cold or warm this is a great dish all year round!

Looks great. I'm so used to seeing the purple sweet potatoes here in Hawaii that I often forget about the yellow ones. Great Pictures.

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