Sunday, February 27, 2011
Sweet Potatoes Take Center Stage!
I am in love with the sweet potato. And it's not only because it is loaded with vitamins and other essential nutrients. It's not only because it is a good source of fiber, or that it is low in calories and devoid of fat and cholesterol. Although it is certainly true that it is a nutrition powerhouse, I'm in love with the sweet potato because it is a delicious gift to someone like me, who gave up processed sugars a long time ago. And it doesn't need brown sugar, marshmallows, or maple syrup to be enjoyed. It is sweet on its own with a little butter and cinnamon. Mmmmmmm...
In a previous post, I shared a family favorite recipe for twice-baked sweet potatoes with fontina that I found in one of my favorite cookbooks. I've made this several times as a side dish, but each time I found myself enjoying the side dish, and pushing the entree to the side.
And so, I decided that it is time to let sweet potatoes take center stage. Which led me to my latest recipe creation: Sweet Potato Wedge Salad with Pecans and Cinnamon Dressing. I've seen several sweet potato or butternut squash salad recipes that called for some kind of cheese and usually dried cranberries, but most of them called for dicing the sweet potato or squash, and that would just not do. So I decided the salad needed to be topped with large wedges of roasted sweet potatoes! And from there, I started adding some of my favorite ingredients: The greens? Arugula! The crunch? Pecans! Oh, and I have been loving shallots lately, let's add those! And of course the best salad cheese EVER- goat cheese! Wait. Let's roast the shallots with the sweet potatoes and sprinkle the goat cheese over them as soon as they come out of the oven so the cheese gets all melty... Mmmmmmm...
As for the dressing, I decided on a cider vinegar and grape seed oil combination, sweetened with agave nectar and some mustard for a little bite. (If you can't find agave nectar, you can substitute a mild honey.) This is tasty on its own, but then I thought to add cinnamon which as it turns out was a great choice.
Although I invented this recipe as a main dish, I served it to my family with a roasted chicken, just in case. It went over so well, everyone had seconds. Tim proclaimed that he didn't need the chicken, they all fought over the leftover dressing, and Carly took a picture of it with her phone!
A few things I would do differently: Some of the shallots were a bit black so next time I will add them in about halfway through cooking time. I would have also preferred the pecans to be more coarsley chopped. Both of these adjustments will be included in the recipe I'm leaving you here.
Let me know if you try my new salad. And share your ideas for bringing sweet potatoes onto the main plate!
Sweet Potato Wedge Salad
with Cinnamon Dressing, Pecans and Goat Cheese
2-3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and each cut into 8 wedges
2 large shallots, sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or enough to coat
Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
4 cups arugula, rinsed and drained
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
4T cider vinegar
2 T agave nectar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 T water
½ tsp. cinnamon
Fresh ground pepper
3 T grape seed oil
Toss sweet potatoes in extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast in 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, add sliced shallots and toss, turning the sweet potatoes. Roast 15 minutes more or until tender. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Set aside.
In large bowl, toss arugula with pecans. In small bowl, whisk vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, cinnamon salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly whisk in oil. Reserve a few tablespoons of dressing. Pour the rest of the dressing over arugula and pecans in bowl. To serve, place arugula mixture onto each plate, divide goat cheese topped sweet potato and shallots among each plate. Drizzle with remaining cinnamon dressing.