Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hold the Marshmallows

Sweet Potato Salad (It's not very photogenic but it tastes fantastic!)
The Center for Science in the Public interests lists sweet potatoes as first amongst the top ten best foods we can eat, stating they are "A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They're loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber". However, if you're like me, my only memory of sweet potatoes is of the sticky, gooey, marshmallow-laden, sugar-comma inducing, cavity provoking dish that graces many dinner tables at Thanksgiving. Ick. As a result, I spent most of my life avoiding these rusty orange gems.

Sweet potato fries while admittedly, no healthier than the afore mentioned dish, sparked my creativity to find other savory uses for these nutrient packed potatoes. The following recipe is another variation of the sweet potato salad I've been making for the last several years. The balance of sweet, spicy and savory in this dish is surprisingly good.

Did you know that true sweet potatoes are actually white with a beige skin? The orange and red tubers commonly referred to as sweet potatoes are actually yams.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (make your own to make this paleo)
  • 1 cup milk (or coconut milk to make this paleo)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (any nut or seed can be used in place of pecans)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cube into 1" pieces.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a steamer and steam until they are fork tender. If you don't have a steamer you can put the cubed potatoes into a colander/strainer and place into a pot with water that just reaches the bottom of the potatoes, place a lid over the pan and steam over medium-high heat. Whenever you steam anything, always be sure to check the water level throughout the cooking process but be careful when lifting the lid to avoid steam burns.
  3. Mince the celery, see the easiest way I know to mince celery here.
  4. Mince the shallot, see the easiest way to chop a shallot, like an onion, here.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the mayonaise and milk, whisk until there are no lumps left.
  6. Add celery, shallots, pecans, chipotle powder or cayenne pepper and salt and peper. Mix the ingredients and taste the mixture, adjust salt, peper and heat to your preference. Remember that you can always add more salt or heat but there isn't much that can be done to undo too much so always start with less and adjust to your tolerance or preference.
  7. Add the steamed sweet potatoes and gently coat with the dressing.
  8. Again, at this point, taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
  9. Serve cold.