Warm Fonio Salad & Sweet Potato Bowl with Curried Pecan Sauce

Warm Fonio Salad & Sweet Potato Bowl with Curried Pecan Sauce

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When the kind people at Yolélé Foods reached out to me about trying fonio several months ago, I was confused at first (“What the heck is fonio?”) but also super intrigued. Simply put, fonio is an easily digestible and gluten-free African supergrain that is packed with amino acids, protein, fiber and iron. This company is also doing a lot to help communities in rural West Africa, which I encourage you to read all about on their website.

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. I am providing a genuine review of a product that I want to share with you.

I posted a dish a while back on my Instagram feed using fonio, but since I still had some leftover, I wanted to do a bit more. I had a dish like this in my mind, and the fonio was the perfect base. You could substitute couscous or quinoa here if you can’t find fonio, but I’d definitely give fonio a try if you’re curious!

I’m a big fan of quinoa, but after trying out fonio, I will definitely consider keeping it in rotation. It has a very fine texture and almost melts in your mouth (especially when combined with a sauce), which is very enjoyable. My favorite part is how quickly it cooks up. In just under five minutes, I was surprised by how much those little grains that looked like sea salt before cooking ended up getting so fluffy.

The recipe below will serve 3-4. My husband and I had this for dinner, and we each took some for lunch the next day too. Score.

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato Rounds:
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil or coconut oil (optional, sub veggie broth for oil free)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Warm Fonio & Legume Salad:
  • 1 cup cooked fonio*
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable broth OR 1 tbsp avocado or other oil for sauteing onions
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  • 1/4 cup cooked green peas**
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Handful of diced green onions
  • Pinch of salt
Curried Pecan Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup of raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp of a good quality curry powder
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or coconut nectar
  • 1 cup very hot, just boiled water
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F .
  2. Wash sweet potatoes and slice into coins that are about 1/2 inch thick. Keep the skins on the potatoes.
  3. Spread sweet potato rounds over nonstick baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Feel free to lightly spray or coat with avocado or coconut oil if you prefer your sweet potatoes to be a bit more caramelized. However, oil is not needed if you are trying to cut out oil.
  4. Pop sweet potatoes into the oven. They will need to bake for about 35-40 minutes total, turning once halfway.
  5. While sweet potatoes are baking,  prepare the fonio per directions. To cook, you simply add the fonio to boiling water, cover, and remove from heat. It will be ready to fluff with a fork after 5 minutes, so be sure to set a timer to check it right away. TIP: Cooking fonio in a wider saucepan is recommended since the extra space will allow it to fluff up more.
  6. Heat a pan over medium heat, add vegetable broth (or oil if you prefer) and toss in minced garlic and chopped onions. Saute for a few minutes until onions are soft, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat once the onions start to brown.
  7. Combine the fonio, grilled onions, chickpeas, green peas, chopped cilantro, scallions and salt in a bowl and combine well.
  8. By this point, 20 minutes have likely passed, so you’ll want to turn your sweet potatoes if you haven’t already.
  9. Create the pecan sauce by bringing a couple cups of water to a boil. Add minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup of raw pecans, 1 tbsp of curry powder, juice from half a lemon, 1 tbsp of maple syrup and pinch of salt to a high-speed blender or high-quality food processor. Once water boils, allow it to stop boiling then add 1 cup very hot water to a high-speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend all ingredients until very creamy. Scrape sides as you go and keep going until it’s super creamy, usually 3-4 minutes.
  10. Transfer fonio salad to a bowl, add on sweet potato rounds and pecan sauce, and ENJOY!
*Can substitute quinoa or couscous for fonio if you still want to try this recipe without fonio. Quinoa will need a tad more time to cook, maybe 12-15 minutes, and I recommend cooking your quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water to get some extra flavor in there.
**Can substitute shelled edamame for green peas. If using frozen green peas, covering them with boiling water and allowing them to sit for a few minutes is an easy way to prepare them.
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