Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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Salad assembled but before dressing. Don’t dress it until you are ready to serve. Such pretty colors!

It’s been rather warm here in Colorado. No snow in Boulder at all. Temps in the 60’s and 70’s. One good thing: my lettuce is still chugging along. Usually, we’d have had a hard freeze by now that freezes the leaves solid.

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Chicken wire essential to deter my dog, who loves lettuce!

But, it’s still fall after all. That means that thoughts (and produce sales) are featuring veggies like sweet potatoes. Who doesn’t dream of sweet potatoes this time of year? And turkey! Sorry, I love Thanksgiving food.

This salad combines some classic fall flavors: sweet potatoes, cranberries, and orange. Compared to so many Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes, this is light and refreshing. Now, I’m not saying I won’t make rich and sweet sweet potatoes this year. But, in a year where summer is hanging on until past Election Day, this is spot on.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
(serves 6-8)

2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
leaves from 3 6″ sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
leaves 3 6″ sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup cranberries, rinsed and dried (see Note)
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 orange, zest and juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cups lettuce or arugula (or a mix), washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large dice. Toss with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, generous sprinkle of salt, light sprinkle of black pepper, and chopped herbs. Put on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until potatoes are browning at the edges and tender.

While the potatoes are roasting, place the cranberries in a small baking pan and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon sugar. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to let them cool while you make the dressing.

Place the sherry vinegar, zest and juice of the orange, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper into a blender jar. Blend for a few seconds to mix. With the blender running, slowly add the remaining 5 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallot and parsley and mix with a spoon. (If you blend it, the parsley will turn the dressing green. Which isn’t the end of the world but it’s prettier if it’s orange.)

To assemble, place the lettuce in the bottom of a large bowl. Pour on the sweet potatoes and distribute over lettuce. Do the same for the cranberries. When you are ready to eat, pour over the dressing and toss it all together.

Note: You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. If using frozen, thaw them before roasting.

Adapted from a recipe in Sweet Potatoes by April McGreger, The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

 

Food Photos: The Bane of My Existence

Why do I use photos that clearly aren’t a photo of the dish I’m writing about? Because I hate having to take photos of my food! Sometimes, it’s my dinner. If I need to style the dish, I’m eating a cold dinner. No thank you! Sometimes, my dinner isn’t particularly photogenic. As a blog reader, I’m annoyed by articles that have endless photos of the food from every angle along with many photos of the production. Overkill, I say. I also have no patience for scrolling over a bunch of photos to get to the recipe I am looking for.

But, a photo is important for catching a reader’s eye in the overwhelming noise that is the internet. That’s why I include interesting photos of food that I have found in Wikipedia Commons in my posts, when I don’t like/can’t be bothered to snap a gauzy, perfectly lit photo of my dinner (oh, wait, I never do that). Live with it. I cook and I write about food which is my passion. Photography definitely isn’t my passion. I leave that to people who are way better at it than I am!

The photo above is mine. It’s not all that pretty but that cauliflower sure tastes good! It’s seasoned with tahini, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper. Aleppo red pepper is slightly spicy – not nearly as hot as crushed Italian red pepper – and has a lovely fruity flavor. I think it’s far more useful in the kitchen than crushed red pepper because it’s more subtle. Find some. You won’t be sorry. It’s great on eggs, hummus, chicken, and right here in this cauliflower recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Lemon
(serves 4-6)

non-stick cooking spray
1 large head of cauliflower
salt
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
¼ to 1 teaspoon Aleppo red pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large rimmed cookie sheet generously with non-stick cooking spray.

Trim off leaves and cut off the tough bottom of the stem on the head of cauliflower. Most of the stalk is edible so don’t try to cut out all of it. It will cook up tender. Slice the cauliflower about ½” thick. The slices won’t hold together; doesn’t matter. Put the cauliflower, in a single layer, on the greased cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Roast the cauliflower in the hot oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

While the cauliflower is roasting, combine the tahini, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

When the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and increase the heat to broil. Spread the tahini sauce evenly over the cauliflower. Return the cauliflower to the oven and broil until the sauce browns up. Serve hot.