Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Tahini Salad

PREP TIME: 20mins


Roasted sweet potatoes coated in fennel seeds, lemony chickpeas, toasted pumpkin seeds and a garlicky tahini sauce. My idea of bliss!

It’s early spring in Cape Town and we are definitely in between seasons, not warm enough to eat outside yet and still cold enough to crave hearty salads.

This is the perfect salad while we wait for some heat and also the type of food I like to eat, colourful, full of flavour and lots of different textures.

Tahini is a Middle Eastern paste made from roasted sesame seeds, its delicious and can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. I tend to try to source ‘runnier’ versions as its easier to use in dressings and marinades. Sumac is a citrusy ‘spice’ made from crushed sumac berries and it adds a final fruity kick to the salad.

Getting Ahead: all the elements of the salad can be made ahead, kept apart, only add the dressing just before serving.

Seasonal Swaps: you can use butternut instead of sweet potatoes and white sweet potatoes instead of the orange fleshed ones. I used a mixture of herbs for my salad, parsley, fennel fronds, dill & mint will all work well.

Serves 4 (6 as a side)

Serving Suggestion:

Would be lovely with the addition of feta, crumbled over. I think my quick flatbreads or my Middle Eastern inspired focaccia will go down a treat!


For the Sweet Potatoes:

  • 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • black pepper


  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • black pepper

Tahini Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 (or more) tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt

The Rest:

  • 3 small Gem lettuces, cut into chunks
  • 1 handful chopped herbs, finely chopped (see intro)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta (omit if vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons sumac (opt)
  • lemon wedges to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. In a large bowl add all the sweet potato ingredients and season with pepper. Mix well, making sure the sweet potatoes are properly covered, roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft but still holding their shape. Remove and cool in the tray.
  3. Meanwhile for the chickpeas, heat the cumin seeds to a dry (no oil) frying pan until toasted, tip into a mortar and pestle and crush until fine. In the same frying pan heat the oil, garlic and crushed cumin seeds until fragrant about 4 minutes, remove.  Add the chickpeas to a bowl and cover with the cumin oil, lemon juice, salt and lots of pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  4. To make the dressing add the tahini to a small bowl, add the garlic and lemon juice and stir. The dressing will go really paste like, don’t worry, just keep on adding enough water for the mixture to be runny enough to make a dressing. Adjust the seasoning accordingly with salt and lemon juice.
  5. To assemble, place the lettuces, herbs, chickpeas and sweet potatoes in a large serving dish. Pour over most of the dressing and toss everything together well. Top with the pumpkin seeds, feta if using, black pepper and a sprinkle of sumac. Enjoy!
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