Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moroccan Sweet Potatoes & Summer Salad

I have been doing a lot of cupcakes and travel posts lately, so I decided to take a little break from that and post a summer recipe: Moroccan Sweet Potatoes & Strawberry Arugula Salad

Moroccan Sweet Potatoes 
With Mint Yogurt Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbs. Harissa (paste or sprinkle)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup mint leaves, dried, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Golden Raisins

Cube potatoes. Pour oil over potatoes and make sure the oil is spread throughout baking sheet.
Coat potatoes in harissa, cayenne, sesame seeds and salt. The harissa paste is quite spicy, so make sure the potatoes are lightly coated. You can add flavors to taste halfway (or longer) through baking.
Bake for ~25 minutes at 425 until potatoes are tender and mush when pressed/cut.
Saute about a half cup of golden raisins on the stovetop in olive oil. Browning the raisins will only take a couple of minutes.

To make the sauce, mix the yogurt, mint, and lemon to taste in a chopper/mixer. A dash of salt and pepper to taste is good.

Serve the potatoes warm, mixed with raisins, and the dipping sauce on the side.

Summer Salad 
Fruit + Prosciutto

Arugula, feta, prosciutto (pan fried), strawberries* & balsamic.
*I also make this salad with watermelon instead of strawberry. 

Harissa makes it Moroccan 

Whenever you read a menu with Moroccan this or that, it is because the item contains Harissa — a multi-pepper paste with garlic and herbs (sometimes sold as pepper flakes). An NPR article describes the tangy, spicy sauce as Sriracha's cousin and the "ketchup" of North Africa due to its ubiquity as a condiment for entrees and spread for bread.

Harissa's ingredients vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, though it is always a complex pepper blend. And though the sauce is considered Moroccan, the peppers it uses are native to the New World.

"It wasn't until Christopher Columbus and crew arrived that pepper fever really took off," the NPR piece states. "With the arrival of the spice-seeking Spanish and Portuguese, it was not long before chilies were shipped back to Europe and thence to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia." [The article sites Greg Malouf's book, From Artichokes to Za'taar: Modern Middle Eastern Food.]

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