This delicious sweet potato preparation is both sweet and spicy from the natural sweetness of the potatoes and the crushed red pepper.
The salad marks a special “anniversary” for me — it was six years ago to the day on Halloween that I opened my cafe on the Square in Woodstock, Illinois, beginning my life as an accidental restauranteur and my romance with one of the most wonderful towns in the world.
Apropos of Halloween, I began my restaurant career with a bit of a “trick.” As I said, I was scheduled to open on October 31. On October 29, I was scrambling around trying to finish the final setup in the Cafe and get ready for final health department approval on the 30th. My menu boards were on the wall, and my menus printed. Then I got a call that the fire department had not approved our countertop fryers that we planned to use for falafel, our main menu item. Hmmm.
This unanticipated change meant that at the zero hour, I had to create another menu with new centerpiece dishes, rewrite the menu boards and print new menus. In those anxiety-ridden hours, I created Ful Pockets and Grateful Pig Breakfasts. I make my falafel with fava beans, and Ful is a fava bean dish that doesn’t involve frying. The Grateful Pig Breakfast included popular items we could make on our approved hot plates, and that included Moroccan Sweet Potatoes and Shakshouka (eggs poached in Matboukha, or Moroccan salsa). Originally served warm, eventually both the Ful and the Moroccan Sweet Potatoes became part of our cold salad repertoire.
Well, I did it, and the health department came in and approved us to open late in the day October 30. Finally I was able to shop and start cooking so we could open the next morning, on Halloween. I got back to the cafe with groceries around 7 PM and spent the night cooking. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time we opened the next morning, but we opened right on time and starting serving up the foods people had come to love through the Woodstock Farmers Market.
One of those items was this zesty Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad. I serve this salad either cold or hot. Sometimes it’s part of a mezze, or Middle Eastern appetizer table before a meal, and sometimes it’s a side dish with a meal. I put it into pita pockets or taco shells with other items — it makes a great taco filling along with some black beans, chopped red peppers and cilantro dressing. And of course I still sometimes serve it up as part of a Grateful Pig Breakfast, which became very popular.
MOROCCAN SWEET POTATOES
- Extra virgin olive oil, 2 TB
- Sweet potatoes, 3 medium-large, petite diced
- Tomato, 1 large plum, petite diced
- Garlic, 2 tsp. crushed
- Fresh ginger root, 1.5 TB peeled and minced
- Onion, 1/4 cup chopped
- Crushed red pepper, 1 – 1.5 tsp. (to taste)
- Salt, 1.5 tsp.
- Saute garlic in 4 quart sauce pan with extra virgin olive oil.
- Add remaining ingredients except potatoes, and saute briefly.
- Add potatoes, cover and steam at medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Cook until just tender throughout.
What I love about Middle Eastern mezze is the amazing rainbow of colors. This is one of the dishes that adds such beauty to the table.
For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me onFaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter,@vegwithleslie.