Sunday, December 19, 2010
I have a new favorite staple, and it's so simple. This is a busy time of year and frankly, when I'm cooking I want to stretch it. I've found spicy roasted sweet potatoes fit the bill perfectly: their versatility to be the perfect side dish, or base of a meal is so welcome in a busy life.
In many ways, they're much like roasted butternut squash, and I often use the two interchangeably. I roast a big pan of them up, have them as a base of a meal that night, then use them to build lunches and dinners for the coming day or two. Think of.....cheese ravioli topped with roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato quesadillas, tossed with spinach salad and toasted walnuts, added to an omelet....they are an easy, flavorful base.
Spicy roasted sweet potatoes
Staring at the sweet potatoes? Here's a hint: go for the orange ones. You get some vitamin/mineral added bonus there.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel several sweet potatoes: go with however many will end up fitting on your roasting pans. I do 3-4. Cut in half, then quarters, then cube into bite-size pieces, about 2-inch squares or so. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on your roasting pan (I use lipped cookie baking sheets for this). Toss your sweet potato cubes with your fingers right on the roasting pan, and move that olive oil around. Generously pepper and salt-this is a great place to use good salt, like sel gris with herbs or smoked sea salt (thanks to the great folks at Zupans who shared their gourmet salts with me this year!). The simplicity of flavors here is where good salt like this can really shine.
Last thing to do? Chop up 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how much heat you like) of canned adobo chiles. I grab a few from my freezer, because when I open a can, I only use a little. (The remaining from the can I drop onto a small tray lined with wax or parchment paper, in rounded tablespoons, freeze over night, then the next day, remove and bag these pre-measured chiles for use in future recipes. This one is a perfect example of how easy they are to use this way.) Again using my hands, just toss the sweet potatoes around with the chiles and flavoring.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Use a spatula to toss them around a bit making sure they're not sticking to the pan, and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes. Done. Now use with wild abandon over the coming days as a spicy, filling and tasty base for meals....even in simplicity as shown in the photo, tossed with a little fresh cilantro and avocado? Perfect lunch.