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Baked Sweet Potato Salad With Vanilla Maple Vinaigrette

Napoleon's Everyday Gourmet Grilling
by Ted Reader
Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time: 1 hour to bake potatoes plus 45 minutes

• 4 large sweet potatoes
• 8 slices double-smoked bacon
• 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
• 2/3 cup celery, diced
• 4-5 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
• 1/2 cup beer nuts, lightly crushed
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, chopped
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, chopped

Vanilla-Maple Vinaigrette
• 1 vanilla bean, split in half and seeded, seeds reserved
• 2 tbsp hot water
• 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
• 3 tbsp champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
• 1 shallot, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat grill to medium-high (450°F/230°C).

Place sweet potatoes on the upper shelf of preheated grill and close lid. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or longer depending on size, until just cooked and tender but not mushy when pierced with a wooden skewer. Let cool slightly to handle, peel, and cut into bite-size pieces, 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Cool completely.

Grill bacon slices until crispy, remove from grill, and dice in 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks.

In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, bacon, red pepper, celery, green onions, beer nuts, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Toss well and set aside.

Vanilla-Maple Vinaigrette:
Place vanilla bean and seeds in a bowl with the hot water. Let sit 10 to 20 minutes.

Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, shallot, and mustard. While continually whisking, drizzle in the oil to form an emulsion. Whisk in the vanilla mixture.

Pour the vinaigrette over the sweet potato salad and mix well to coat. Serve immediately.

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