Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Favorite Side Dish of All Time

I've always been an "Autumn" person. I love reds and oranges as accents in my house (and yes, even in my hair.) I make the most out of the season in the kitchen, as well. This dish has it all: gorgeous color and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It's filling as the main course at a vegetarian dinner or a showstopper as a side dish. Here's the recipe. My thoughts below:

3 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2 lb.
total3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided use
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.Set the sweet potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until they still feel slightly firm when pressed, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Place the sweet potatoes on a plate, cover loosely and refrigerate overnight. (Chilling them firms the flesh, making it hold together better in the hash.) The next day, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.In a nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Add the apple cubes and saute, stirring occasionally, until the butter browns and the apple cubes start to caramelize and brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan. When it melts, stir in the green onion and cranberries and cook until the green onion wilts, about 1 minute. Stir in the cinnamon and allspice, add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they are heated through, about 4 minutes. They will break up somewhat, but try to smash them as little as possible. Add the 1/4 tsp. salt, or more, to taste, and season with pepper. Transfer the hash to a serving dish and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Servings: 6Adapted from source: Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons

  • Okay, let me tell you a secret. This week when I made this recipe I forgot that it called for 50 minutes of baking time for the sweet potatoes. I was hungry and hubby was coming home in twenty minutes. I decided to improvise, peel the potatoes first and bake them in the microwave. I put all three of them in for 10 minutes. It wasn't enough. I put them back for a few more minutes until they were slightly firm when pressed (as the recipe suggests.) The hash came together nicely in the frying pan. I didn't realize that the potatoes weren't fully cooked until I went in for a taste. I wound up putting the entire hash back in the microwave for another 3 minutes until the potatoes were soft enough. In the end everything worked well together. I hate using the microwave to "cook", but I was in a jam this time. My advice is to follow the recipe instructions the first time you try this dish. Then, you'll know how firm the potatoes should be and can improvise the next time.

  • The simpliest rule of eating healthy is to fill your dinner plate with color. If your plate has several colors of the rainbow, you're in great shape. Think green and red (sauteed swiss chard), yellow (roasted butternut squash) and purple (beet salad with goat cheese!). There's a great article on the Whole Foods website which talks about the benefits of eating a variety of colorful foods. Here it is:


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