Tag Archives: Sweet Potatoes

How to Forget the Hostile Climate You Live In (Sans Alcohol): Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet

Sweet Potato & Enchilada Skillet
People. I pray you are not in Chicago. It is barricade-yourself-in-your-home-and-drink-red-wine-to-stay-warm kind of cold here. The reality of the Midwestern winter was put into brutal perspective for me after this weekend, which I spent in sunny, happy, these-people-must-be-on-meds-they-smile-so-much Austin, TX. This is a land where the weather hung out in the indisputably blissful 70s throughout the entirety of my visit. Then, I boarded a plane. Then, a mere two hours later, I landed in Chicago aka Iceland. As soon as the plane doors were opened to release us into Iceland, the savage air pushed its way in and we could all see our breath. WHILE WE WERE STILL ON THE PLANE. This has never happened to me.

It was 7 degrees. That’s over a 60 degree drop! Are you getting the picture? Are you understanding my need for drug-like foods so hot, steamy and yummy they just might make you forget about the next few months of pain that lie ahead? Ok, good. This brings me to my latest concoction, which I have made not one, but three times in the past month. It’s crave-inducing, a snap to make and uber healthy. It will make you forget the snow piling up outside your door. Especially if you pair it with margaritas, as we did during its latest showing at a dear friend’s dinner party.
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African Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup

Spring has been reticent here in Chicago. With each seasonably warm day comes a discouraging string of unseasonably dark, cold, and windy days. But we must make lemonade out of lemons! And so I’ve come to view the capriciousness of the seasons as a time to continue my hibernation, cooking up big vats of richly flavored soups, ideally full of my favorite winter vegetable – sweet potatoes!

This deceptively hearty soup is in actuality quite light and invigorating, with its abundance of vegetables, deeply layered flavor profile, and decisively spicy kick. It provides you with a cherry little bowl of nutrition, no matter how dour your climate may presently be. I also love it for its vibrantly orange color and ability to rally the spirits on a frigid, gloomy night in April where you find yourself wondering why you’ve chosen to live in a climate where such temperatures dare to show themselves past March.
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Cheater Sweet Potato Ravioli in a Sage & Brown Butter Sauce

This recipe is for cheaters. Not interested in rolling out your own ravioli dough? Take a page out of NYC restauranteurs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo new cookbook, The Frankie’s Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. The Franks’ popular Frankie’s 17 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood and Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn serve honest, homemade Italian food in an unpretentious setting. Spuntino, meaning “An informal meal or a snack” and “a casual Italian eatery” embodies the essence of the Frank’s sensible approach to Italian food.

This recipe is interesting in that it uses wonton wrappers to encase the ravioli filling. I know. I was unconvinced, but figured these were some trust-worthy Italian dudes. Surely names such as “Falcinenlli” and “Castronovo” are some sort of Italian credibility currency? I gave it a shot, and the reaction from my guests involved initial looks of skepticism, closely followed by rave reviews and topped off with profusions of thanks and hugs.

The book’s recipe uses a Chinese five-spice powder to season the potatoes. I used it the first time I made it, but swapped it out the second in favor of a 50/50 blend of freshly grated nutmeg and cinammon. The original recipe also serves the ravioli in a cheese broth studded with sage, but I elected to fall back on my perennial favorite, a brown butter and sage sauce.

Sweet Potato Ravioli in a Sage & Brown Butter Sauce
Serves 6-8

3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
fine-grain sea salt
freshly ground white pepper (substitute black if you don’t have any)
48 wonton wrappers
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
one stick of salted butter
8 large sage leaves, roughly chopped
parmesan cheese, for serving

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each potato tightly with foil. Roast in the oven until a knife slides easily through the foil and into the potato; 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove from oven, open the foil, and cut each potato open lengthwise to allow for the steam to escape. When cool enough to handle, scrape flesh out of the skins and into a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, honey, a large pinch of salt, and some pepper. Mash with a potato masher or a fork.

2.) Grab your largest cutting board to use as your work surface for assembling the ravioli. Also, have a towel on hand for mopping up excess water and wiping your fingers. Place a small bowl of water next to your stack of wonton wrappers and the bowl of sweet potatoes. To make ravioli, wet your fingers and draw them along the edges of the wonton wrapper. Place a rounded teaspoon of potato at the center of the wrapper. Fold wrapper diagonally over the filling and use your fingers to pinch it closed. You don’t have to drive yourself mad here – you’ll be surprised by how well these little pillows of goodness hold up when they hit the boiling water. If you find you have potatoes spilling over the edges, use less filling. Repeat… 47 more times! Hint: Enlist a hungry housemate to expedite the process.

3.) Heat a very large pot of water to cook the ravioli in. Approximately 3 minutes before your brown butter sauce is ready, salt the water, gently pour in the ravioli, and cook for 2-3 minutes; until skins are transparent and all of the ravioli has floated to the surface. Drain.

4.) Make the brown butter sauce. Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Preferably, use a silver pan, as it is difficult to keep an eye on the butter’s stage in the browning process in a black pan. Add butter and melt, swirling the pan frequently, until it’s beginning to look nicely browned and some “debris” is falling to the bottom of the pan. You’ll know it when you see it. Your kitchen will smell nutty and intoxicatingly warm and delicious. Add sage and fry for 20-30 seconds; until crisp and fragrant. Remove butter from heat and season with salt and pepper.

5.) Using a large mixing bowl, or the pot you cooked the ravioli in, pour the butter sauce over the ravioli and stir to coat well. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This recipe was adapted from The Frankie’s Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan. Published by Artisan, A Division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc.; 2010.

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

1/4 cup mild-flavored olive oil
1 enormous yellow onion, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
large bunch of cilantro, stalks and leaves roughly separated
3 jalapeno chili peppers, two of the three seeded, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
a 1 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
1 sweet potato, peeled & cubed
2 potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 teaspoons garam masala

1.) Grab your biggest Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pot and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds and saute for 10 minutes or so; until beginning to turn golden.

2.) Add the cilantro stalks, chilies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and salt and stir to distribute evenly. Cook for 2 minutes.

3.) Add tomatoes, cauliflower, and potatoes. Stir to coat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are fork-tender; 20 minutes or so.

4.) Stir in garam masala. Sprinkle the curry with the cilantro leaves, reserving some as serving garnishes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for as long as possible before serving to allow the flavors to settle and develop. Serve garnished with reserved cilantro leaves.

Restorative Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Ginger

Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Ginger

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 purple saluda onion (if you can’t find one, substitute more yellow onion), chopped
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
splash of dry red wine
1 large sweet potato, finely diced
5 green onions, light green and white parts only, chopped
1 bunch of fresh spinach (about 9 oz), roughly chopped
1/2 bunch red kale (about 8 oz), roughly chopped
3 tablespoons ginger, chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
freshly ground black pepper
wedge of lemon

1.) In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon of salt, stir, and reduce heat to low. Slowly cook for 30 minutes to an hour; until fragrant and caramelized, adding garlic about halfway though.

2.) Meanwhile, heat 4 cups of water, sweet potato, spinach, kale, green onions, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and ginger in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add vegetable broth and warm through.

3.) Once onion is caramelized and the greens are done cooking, deglaze the Dutch Oven with a splash of red wine. Then, dump the pots of greens and all of the liquid into the Dutch Oven. Heat through and season with freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if necessary. Serve with a chunk of good, crusty whole wheat bread, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a wedge of lemon.

This recipe was adapted from Love Soup by Anna Thomas. Published by W. W. Norton & Company; September 2009.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Tagine

Moroccan Sweet Potato Tagine

2 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 14 oz cans)
4 medium sweet potatoes
3 skinny carrots, chopped
14 oz can tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1.) Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, reduce heat slightly, and cook for 5 minutes more.

2.) Reduce heat again and add all of the spices, stirring constantly, and taking care not to let the onions burn.

3.) Add carrots, squash, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

4.) Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and raisins, cover, and simmer for 30-50 minutes, depending on how large your chunks of vegetables are; until fork tender.

5.) Serve on a bed of cous cous.