Apr 9, 2014

No Potatoes, Please

If you are looking for filling dishes to prepare this Pesach that do not contain potatoes look no further than the bin located right next to the potatoes!

The sweet potato is not actually a potato, only a distant cousin. Potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots. The reason for the name may be found in the original Spanish name for sweet potato—“batata.” From there it was an easy change to potato and the mistake that the two are related.

It is thought that they originated in South America and native travelers spread this tasty root throughout the northern hemisphere as well. Currently, sweet potatoes are an important part of cuisines throughout the world.

Sweet potatoes can be baked, grilled, steamed, sautéed and roasted. Their mildly sweet flavor lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes. Bake up some sweet potatoes wedges with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar or add them to a gratin; sliced with leeks and pastrami bits—both dishes will please you family. The sweet potato has yellow or orange flesh, and its thin skin may either be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends.

When selecting sweet potatoes choose those that are smooth, plump, dry and clean. Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting a sweet potato or the flesh will discolor. It takes six to eight weeks after harvest for sweet potatoes to reach their peak in sweetness when baked. They can be stored at home for up to two months in a dark cool place.

RoastedSweet Potato Soup with Crispy Shallots

Roasting sweet potatoes will keep all the nutritional benefits and bring out their inherent flavor.

for the soup:
8 medium sweet potatoes, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 leek, washed and chopped (white & light green only)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
1/2 cup apple juice
5 cups chicken broth or water
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

for the garnish:
8-10 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash 6 sweet potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise.

Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Roast 45 minutes or until soft. Removed from oven and allow to cool slightly. Heat olive oil in a 4-5 quart pot. Sauté leeks and garlic with cumin until softened and fragrant. Peel remaining sweet potatoes and slice them in rounds. Add sweet potatoes, juice and broth or water to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat 20 minutes or until sweet potato slices are soft. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Heat canola oil in a medium sized frying pan. Slice shallots as thinly as possible. Sauté shallots

in hot oil until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Serve soup topped with a sprinkle of crispy shallots. Serves 6

¼ cup light olive oil
¼ cup dark brown sugar or granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
4 pounds sweet potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. 

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the oil, sugar, water, salt and ginger. Add the cinnamon stick and simmer 5minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick and discard.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut them in wedges lengthwise. Toss potato wedges with brown sugar mixture and spread on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes or until tender, stirring once after 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

6 ounces pastrami or leftover roast, sliced thick & cut into 1/4” dice
4 tablespoons mild olive oil
2 large leeks, halved lengthwise and soaked
4-5 cloves garlic crushed
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (soup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 eggs
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (purchased or homemade)
freshly ground black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 medium Idaho or russet potatoes

prepare the leek filling:

In a medium sized sauté pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the meat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5-6 minutes.  While the meat is cooking, drain the leeks and slice them into 1/4” pieces.  Set aside.  Remove pastrami with a slotted spoon and set aside.  
Add the garlic and leeks to the saucepan.  Cover and sweat for 5 minutes over a low flame, stirring occasionally.  Don’t allow them to brown.  Add the broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the, pepper and meat.  Allow to cool 5 minutes and beat in the eggs and mayonnaise.

prepare the gratin:Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel and slice the potatoes and sweet potatoes, 1/4” thick.  Lightly grease a 9”x13” or 2 quart casserole dish.  Arrange one overlapping layer of Idaho potatoes in the pan. Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Spread 1/3 of leek filling evenly over the potatoes.  Arrange a layer of overlapping sweet potatoes over the leek filling.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 of leek filling over the sweet potatoes.  Arrange the last layer of potatoes over the leek filling.  Season the potatoes once again with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Using your hands, or a large spatula, press down on the potatoes to compact the layers.  Spread the remaining leek filling over the top. 

Bake 1 hour or until golden and crispy on top.  Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.  May be made 2 days in advance and reheated before serving.

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