Tag Archives: Sweet Potato

Stuffed sweet potatoes with chipotle black beans and greens

Most of the recipes I post on this blog are one-offs. They’re things I dream up, cook, photograph, eat, enjoy, and then never make again. But every so often a new recipe is so simple, so tasty, and so adaptable that it wriggles its way into my regular rotation and lives there for months before it ends up here. This is one of those.

I got the idea for these stuffed sweet potatoes from a brilliant recipe over at The Kitchn. The basic premise is this: you scrub and roast a few sweet potatoes until they’re squishy all the way through. (Use small sweet potatoes, since they’ll cook more quickly and give a better flesh-to-filling ratio.) Sweat an onion, garlic, and a few flavorings in oil, then add a bunch of chopped greens and a splash of some flavorful liquid. Let the greens wilt for a few minutes, then stir in a drained can of beans and warm the whole thing through. Cut a slit in each sweet potato, drizzle the flesh with oil or butter, and pile it high with the filling. Grab a fork and a steak knife, and devour, skin and all.

That’s the outline, and I’ve had a lot of fun filling it in. Sweet potatoes need strong flavors to cut through their baby-food sweetness, and the best fillings I tried are tangy, smoky, and spicy all at once. The original recipe used white beans, shallot, rosemary, fresh lemon, and chile flakes. I’ve also done a Spanish-inspired version, with chickpeas, sweet onion, smoked paprika, and preserved lemon. But this version is my favorite so far: black beans, red onion, chipotle, and lime. Based on a few rounds of trial and error, I recommend using a bit more chipotle than you might otherwise like; even if the filling is searingly spicy when you taste it from the pan, the sweet potato will tromp all over it. Be brave.

One other great thing about this recipe: it’s made to be made ahead. You can freeze the filling in portions, and bake the sweet potatoes a few days in advance; just reheat as many portions as you need in the microwave. During the last couple months of 2014, when I was commuting two hours each way to work, I’d come home and throw together a potato as a late dinner. Since New Year’s, I’ve been working from home, and eating these as a hearty desk lunch. And if I ever burn out on this flavor combination, I’ll just start experimenting with others.

chipotle stuffed sweet potato 2

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Sweet potato latkes with sage

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing some occasional writing for CASE Magazine. My latest piece went up today, and it’s about a topic that’s on all of my loved ones’ minds this week month year: Thanksgivukkah.

That’s right, folks. For the first time in well over 100 years, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are coinciding. Over at CASE, I discuss the ways that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah make sense as a mash-up, and then again don’t: how the traditions, history, and cultural significance push and pull at each other in slightly unsettling ways. But this here is a food blog. And everyone knows that the real buzz around Thanksgivukkah is the food. So let’s talk turkey (heh heh).

If there’s any foodstuff that perfectly represents the marriage of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, it’s the sweet potato latke. This is Hanukkah form meets Thanksgiving substance: shredded sweet potato and diced onion, squeezed as dry as possible, bound together with starch and egg, and fried until crackly-golden on the outside. Because sweet potatoes are less starchy than ordinary potatoes, they make for a softer, slightly chewier latke. The flavor is wonderful, with shades of sweetness from the potatoes and onions. I add a healthy dose of fresh sage, deep and musky and slightly bitter, which really takes these from good to soooooo good.

Because of the less-starchy sweet potatoes, these latkes will likely need a bit more binder than the ordinary potato kind, and you have choices for what to use. If you want the familiar crackery flavor of a traditional latke, use matzo meal; if you want plain old binding power, use all-purpose flour; and if you want to keep things gluten-free, use cornstarch. Whatever you use, though, keep in mind that the best latkes are made by feel, not by strict measurement. My mother never uses a recipe to make latkes–she just mixes and adjusts until the mixture holds together enough to fry. The proportions below are a start, but feel free to use more or less egg, and more or less binder, if needed. It’s always a good idea to fry a teeny test latke first–that way you can make sure the mixture hangs together, and taste for salt and pepper and sage. After that, get to frying. There’s a crazy mash-up holiday to celebrate.

sweet potato latke

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Sweet potato and black bean salad

It seems so strange to be talking about anything other than the hurricane right now. Especially when all I can think to start this post with is a gentle complaint about the weather here–namely, that it can’t make up its mind. Somehow it feels insulting, even malicious, that summer is still flirting with us here in Northern California. Granted, she seems to be losing interest, with shorter bursts of sunshine and clouds that linger longer and drop more water. But there is still an unsettled quality to the weather–not nearly as unsettled as on the other side of the country, certainly, but just enough to make me uneasy.

I’m not writing this to try and chase away the sunshine. I’ll happily take it, as long as it lasts. But as someone trying her feeble best to cook seasonally, it’s a surprising challenge to have such ping-ponging weather. I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to feed myself lately. It’s too cool for a green salad, but too warm for a big pot of stew. I’ve been craving mulled cider for weeks, but it seems plain silly to be sipping a wintry drink when the mercury is inching back towards 80 degrees. The creative challenge–one I haven’t quite been up to lately–is finding a way to straddle the divide between summer and fall.

This salad was one of my attempts. I made it for a black-and-orange potluck last weekend, where it was a respectable guest but by no means the star. I guess that’s the curse of potato salads: to be solid and dependable, a cheerful second fiddle to the sexier, meatier main courses. This particular salad made a pretty strong case for itself, though. I roasted chunks of sweet potato–skin on, for texture and ease–with olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Then I made a tangy-spicy slip of a dressing, with lime and mustard as the standout players, and mixed in a can of black beans and a big handful of chopped parsley. The resulting combination was nice, if a little subdued: sugary sweet potato, smoky spice, guttural black beans, the faintest whisper of dressing, grassy flecks sprinkled here-and-there. It seemed very appropriate for the odd not-quite-season we’re in.

Of course, as soon as I hit “publish” on this post, the sky will cloud over and we’ll be doused. Then it’ll be on to soup and stew and rib-sticking casseroles. Honestly, when compared to what’s been going on three time zones away, I’m grateful for all the coy stages of weather we’ve had. Here’s hoping life gets back to normal soon, for all of us.

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