No need for tons of fat in this sweet potato salad

Let’s talk potato salad. There’s a reason it’s a summer perennial, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Here’s a crafty version that swaps sweet potatoes for white potatoes and loses the standard recipe’s abundant mayonnaise in favor of a dressing high in flavor and low in fat.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and also high in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. One caveat: steam your sweet potatoes just until they become tender. Overdo it and they’ll turn to mush.

I’ve cast black beans and corn in support of the sweet potatoes. Like all legumes, black beans are low in calories and high in protein and fiber, and they boast an assortment of important nutrients.

Corn is at its best when it’s fresh, fresh, fresh! Corn’s natural sugars start to turn into starch the minute it’s harvested. The challenge is to safeguard its natural sweetness. Boil it and brush it with butter and you have a dish fit for a king. But grilling the corn, as we do here, takes it to an even higher level. Somehow this process amps up the flavor and decreases the need for fat.

With the exception of the spray used to coat the corn before grilling, there’s no oil in this recipe. I managed that by composing a dressing so flavorful — the keys are chipotle, cilantro and garlic — no one notices the lack of fat. The chipotles (or smoked jalapeno chilies) are the crucial ingredient.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows.

Sweet Potato, Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad With Spicy Cilantro Dressing

Serves 6. Recipe is by Sara Moulton.

21½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 clove garlic

½ chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 small shallot, coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Salt

4 ears corn, husked

15½-oz. can black beans, drained

4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1. Heat grill to medium.

2. In a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes, cover and steam until just tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl.

3. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine garlic, chipotle, shallot, cilantro and vinegar. Puree until smooth. Taste, then season with salt. When the potatoes are done, pour half of the dressing over them, then toss well. Set aside to cool.

4. While potatoes cool, prepare the corn. Mist it with cooking spray, then grill, turning often, until the ears are lightly browned in spots on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove corn from the grill and set aside to cool until easily handled. Cut the kernels from the cobs. To do this, one at a time stand each ear on its wide end, then carefully saw down the length of the cob on all sides. You should have at least 2 cups of kernels.

5. Stir the corn kernels, beans and scallions into the potatoes, adding additional dressing as desired. Taste, then adjust seasoning.

Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories (20 calories from fat = 8 percent of total calories); 2.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 54 grams carbohydrate (9 grams fiber; 17 grams sugar); 9 grams protein; 1,250 milligrams sodium.