It’s come to my attention that I haven’t updated in…oh…a month? My goodness, how time has flown! You don’t need to hear my excuses, but I do want to assure you that I didn’t die in Atlanta, since that’s where I last left you, and that I am alive and well and cooking (although the cooking thing and I took a month off too). The important thing is that I’m back and I’m going to start slogging through my GoogleReader to catch back up with you all too. I’ve missed you!
This past Sunday we celebrated Neighbor’s Day at our weekly potluck and given the beautiful weather (tall, stormy clouds punctuated by bright blue sky–no rain) we ate outside in the courtyard of the apartment building. It seemed like there were at least 20 people at some point, a great number, and definitely a smorgasbord of food and wine.
Like I said, I haven’t been cooking much, but I decided to whip out the kitchen knives and have a go at a recipe. Five sweet potatoes were left from my last farmer’s market haul of 2009 and since the first farmer’s market is this weekend (which I’ll miss due to the triathlon, sigh) I decided to use ’em up. I knew we would be grilling in the courtyard in addition to just being outside, so I decided to go with a potato salad based on sweet potatoes. A quick search came up with Mark Bittman’s Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing and it sounded way too good to pass up.
Truth be told, I didn’t change anything in the recipe besides add an extra chili or two to the dressing and it was a hit. The roasted sweet potatoes add a sweetness to the salad while the raw peppers add crunch. The dressing, with it’s acid base and chili kick is the perfect complement. And who doesn’t love black beans? I served the salad warm because I cooked it right before I took it to potluck, but after having some leftovers that were chilled, I’m a huge fan of it that way too. I know sweet potatoes aren’t the most seasonal ingredient, but this is definitely something to keep in mind for your next cookout if you’re looking to shake up the traditional items a bit.
Sweet Potato Salad with Chili Dressing
from Mark Bittman
5-6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large red onion, chopped
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tbsp minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño (I added a dried Thai pepper and another one that was roundish–no idea what it was–for extra heat)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 c lime juice
2 c cooked black beans, drained (1 can’s worth)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 c chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (I went the parsley route since I detest cilantro)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on separate large baking sheets, drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing (Note: the onions didn’t need to be roasted as long as the sweet potatoes, so I took them out first).
Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended. (Note: at this point, adjust for taste–add more lime juice or another chili as desired).
Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell peppers; toss with dressing and parsley/cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.