Hold the Marshmallows, Hand me a Margarita
My blog of choice here at Chew on That seems to be guilty food confessions, so here is another cathartic truth (so appropriate at the start of Lent). I have done a great disservice to sweet potatoes over the years. Rather than enjoy the great flavor of these more interesting potatoes, I have consorted with my older sister to drown them under a sea of baked marshmallows at each and every family gathering. My mom’s back would turn and we would sneak another bag of the mini-variety on top of the casserole and pop it back into the oven. Basically, the sweet potatoes functioned merely as a base or holder for the marshmallowy goodness, and an excuse to sneak more sugar past my health-conscious mother. For this, dear sweet potato, I apologize.
As you must already be aware, today is National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, and I plan to redeem myself. (I have no idea who has the final authority on these crazy food holidays, but I would love the job.) It also happens to be National Margarita Day (perhaps a rival faction from the foodies responsible for sweet potato day), and I certainly cannot let this festive food holiday pass me by either. While you might think the combination would present a problem, I have a solution to honor both foods equally at my dinner table. The lime.
A proper margarita should always be made with several *fresh* limes. Take the juice of one lime and mix it with tequila, triple sec, and ice for the perfect margarita. Garnish with a glass-rim covered in salt and several lime wedges. Perfecto. If you purchase several limes at the store, you will have plenty leftover from drink-slinging for a delicious preparation of your sweet potatoes. Lime, cilantro, and cayenne pepper bring an interesting twist to sweet potatoes, while still allowing their great flavor to come through.
2 lb. sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh lime zest
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes with 2 Tbs. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt in a shallow baking pan. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 25 minutes total. Stir together cayenne, zest, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Whisk together lime juice and remaining Tbs. oil in a medium bowl, then add potatoes. Sprinkle with cayenne mixture and cilantro, stirring gently to combine. Sauté onions and bell pepper in margarine for 5 minutes. Add squash that has been sliced and cubed. Sauté 5 minutes more add tomatoes (break up whole tomatoes). Cook for 5 more minutes. Add bread cubes and seasonings. Put in 2 quart casserole and sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
Happy National Margarita and Go Cook a Sweet Potato Day! Now go celebrate!