Tag Archives: Sweet Potatoes

Winter Garden Salad: A Template Recipe for Greens + Roots

If we didn’t have 150 pounds of pork in the freezer, I could eat a warm salad of winter greens and roasted veggies every night. (Roy, not so much.) This is one of those recipe/techniques that I unapologetically come back to again and again—Warm Winter Salad of Roasted Root Fries (The Fresh and Green Table), Warm Bistro Salad with Tiny Roasted Root Vegetables and Bacon Dressing (Fast, Fresh & Green), and Quick-Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Ginger Lime Vinaigrette (coming in Fresh from the Farm), to name a few. (Hmmm, it appears I’m not averse to sneaking pork into these things, so you could certainly have your salad, and your bacon, too.)

The appeal of a warm salad with crispy, yummy roasted veggies served atop deep, dark greens with a bracing vinaigrette is the interplay between fresh and comforting. I also like the textural contrast, and to be honest, the visual appeal. These days, I don’t compose the salads so much as scatter-and-platter them. It’s a looser, more rustic look, and served family-style, more casual. But you can always arrange the salads on individual serving plates if you like.

It occurred to me this week that I should back up, look at the architecture of these salads, and come up with a template you could use, depending on whatever greens and winter veggies you’ve got hanging around.

Plus, I needed an excuse to show off my greens that are still alive in the market garden. (Ahem, again, unapologetic…) So this morning after my chicken chores (no frozen water—yay!), I took a bowl and scissors and collected a nice combo of mizuna, Ruby Streaks mustard, Russian kale, arugula, tat soi, parsley, a few baby bok choy leaves, and even a few carrot tops. It’s amazing what lives through freezing temperatures and unfortunate ice formations; the arugula is particularly hearty, and one of my lettuces, Winter Marvel, acts like it doesn’t even know its December. (Alas, soon enough, nothing will be growing, even if it stays alive, since we’re now down below the critical mark of 10 hours of daylight. I’ve got lots of lettuce and greens down in the hoop house which I am just hoping to keep alive and harvest sparingly until early February, when 10+hours returns and they’ll start growing again.)

Realistically, most of us will be harvesting greens for our winter salads from the grocery store, so here’s your chance to buy baby kale, escarole and frisee, sturdy spinach, and anything that’s got some backbone or body. Make your own custom mix, and try to steer away from bagged mixes of salad greens, which tend to be less fresh than heads or bunches and also contain filler lettuces which don’t hold up to warm vinaigrettes too well.

For your veggie mix, choose from sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, or butternut squash. Dice them quite small so that they’ll roast quickly; most won’t need peeling—but for the butternut. (For a pretty all squash-salad, you could use thinly sliced acorn and/or Delicata rings, which don’t need peeling and will also cook quickly.) Add diced pears or apples to the veggie mix if you want, and customize your salad with whatever toasted nuts and good quality cheeses you like. Use your favorite vinegar in the warm vinaigrette, and don’t be shy with a squeeze of lemon or lime to juice it up.

Here’s my template—I hope it will make a nice starting point for you. If you come up with a really delicious combo, I’d love to hear about it!

Warm Salad of Roasted Root Veggies and Winter Greens

Be sure to cut your veggies into evenly small pieces so they’ll all cook at the same rate. Don’t be tempted to crowd them on one pan, either—a little room around them will brown them up better. (Unless, of course, you want to cut this recipe in half, which is perfectly doable.) If you decide to include beets in your veggie mix, toss them with a little oil and salt separately from the rest or they’ll tend to color everything else.

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For the salad:

1½ to 1¾ pounds combination sweet potatoes (unpeeled), potatoes (unpeeled), carrots (peeled), parsnips (peeled), turnips (unpeeled), beets (unpeeled), butternut squash (peeled), firm-ripe pears (peeled), or Golden Delicious apples (unpeeled), cut into small dice (about 3/8-inch in diameter) (about 5 to 6 cups)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

6 to 7 cups combination sturdy mixed winter greens (such as baby kale, escarole, frisee, arugula, mustard, or tat soi)

¼ cup chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts

½ to 2/3 cup crumbled good quality blue cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese or 1/3 cup coarsely grated aged gouda or Parmigianno

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, figs, pitted dates, or other dried fruit (optional)

For the vinaigrette:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice (more to taste)

½ teaspoons lemon or lime zest

1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves (or other herb of choice)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

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Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two large rimmed heavy-duty baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large, wide mixing bowl, combine the veggies, the 4 tablespoons olive oil, and a scant teaspoon kosher salt. Toss well and spread in one layer on the two baking sheets. Roast, rotating the sheet pans once (and flipping the veg with a spatula if you like), until the veggies are nicely browned and tender, about 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes on the sheet pans and then combine in a mixing bowl.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the greens in a wide heat-proof mixing bowl. Set out a serving platter or four serving plates.

Make the warm vinaigrette: Heat the 1/3 cup olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are browned and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and remove the shallot rings with a fork, transferring them to a paper-towel lined plate. Let the oil cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, the maple syrup, the Dijon, the juice, the zest, the herbs, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Whisk vigorously until the dressing is mostly emulsified. (Alternatively, first transfer the shallot-infused oil to a heat-proof Pyrex liquid measure, add the other ingredients and whisk well. This is a slightly less awkward way of making the dressing). Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon or lime juice, salt or pepper as needed.

Season the greens with a sprinkling of kosher salt and drizzle over them a few tablespoons of the warm vinaigrette. (Be sparing at this point). Toss well, taste, and add a little more dressing if necessary. Arrange most of the greens on your platter or serving plates. Sprinkle with half of the nuts, cheese, and fruit.

Season the roasted veggies with a pinch more salt, and dress them lightly with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss well and scatter over the greens. Garnish with remaining nuts, cheese, fruit, greens, and reserved shallots. Serve right away, passing the remaining dressing if desired.

Serves 4

P.S. Farmer enjoyed harvesting greens this morning, too!

 

Beyond Fries—Sweet Potatoes Star in a Slow-Sauté

Sweet potatoes are having their moment—at least according to a recent article by my favorite New York Times reporter, Kim Severson. It seems their new fame is largely due to the popularity of sweet potato fries. These fries (mostly deep-fried like regular potato fries) have popped up on both upscale and chain restaurant menus all over the country in the past couple of years. I am one of those willing victims who eats these things; but more often I roast them at home in the oven using the recipe I created for Fast, Fresh & Green. (I posted that recipe here last spring when the book came out. It has a yummy limey dipping sauce that goes with it.)

But I’ve long been a fan of sweet potatoes cooked many different ways—especially any method that allows them to caramelize a bit, like slow-sautéing. So I thought this week I’d make some slow-sautéed sweet potatoes and share that recipe here, in honor of the humble tuber’s new (but hopefully not fleeting) fame.

All this attention has some real perks for cooks and eaters alike. For cooks, there are now more varieties of sweet potatoes available at groceries and farmers’ markets. I love the Gem and Garnet sweet potatoes I find. Their flesh is moist and very tasty. But according to the North Carolina Sweet Potato commission’s website, there are actually hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes from white-fleshed to deep purple. (Visit their site to see cool photos of a dozen kinds.) The perk for eaters, which I didn’t realize until reading Severson’s article, is that sweet potatoes, sweet as they are, are actually full of complex carbohydrates (as opposed to simple sugars) which don’t spike insulin, so they are recommended for diabetics and dieters alike. They’re also very high in beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and fiber.

All that, plus sweet potatoes are easy to prep. There’s very little waste, and most often I don’t peel them. So whether you’re looking for great flavor, fun cooking, or better health, sweet potatoes have something to offer.

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes & Onions with Cider Butter

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the slow-sauté, you can vary this recipe by adding some diced apple halfway through cooking, or by adding a bit of minced fresh ginger or garlic at the end of cooking (fold in and let soften for a minute or two). You can also add toasted chopped nuts at the end. However, the simple cider butter is really all you need for a delicious finish.

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4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 fairly big ones), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 small onions (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice, about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup apple cider

1/4 tsp. cider vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped parsley (optional)

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Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into 8 pieces and refrigerate it to keep it cold.

In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. (The pan will look crowded.) Stir well. (A silicone spoonula works great for this.) Reduce the heat to medium, cover loosely, and cook, stirring and flipping occasionally with a flat-edged spatula, for 15 minutes. The sweet potatoes will start browning after about 10 minutes, and you’ll be scraping up some brown stuff off the bottom of the pan—no worries. Listen to the pan; you should hear a gentle sizzle, not a loud one, as the sweet potatoes cook. If the vegetables are browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit to maintain that gentle sizzle. If you can barely hear the sizzle, turn the heat up a bit.

Uncover, add 1 more tablespoon butter, the onions and 1/4 tsp. salt, and continue to cook, stirring and flipping more frequently as browning goes faster. Adjust the heat down slightly if necessary (and add a little more oil to the pan if it seems dry). Cook until the vegetables are all tender and the onions are lightly browned, about another 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until it is reduced to about 3 tablespoons—it will be slightly more viscous. Add the cider vinegar and reduce the heat to the very lowest setting so that the liquid is hot but not simmering. Remove the cold butter pieces from the fridge and begin adding them to the hot liquid, a few pieces at a time. After each addition, whisk the butter until it dissolves and becomes creamy. Finish adding the butter and whisking until you have a creamy sauce. Do not turn the heat up or the butter will separate while melting. Keep the sauce warm over the very lowest heat if necessary.

Drizzle the sauce over the sweet potatoes, toss well and serve garnished with the chopped parsley (if using).

Serves 4

Fast, Fresh & Green is Here–and I Couldn’t Be More Thrilled


Theoretically, I am a jaded editor and writer. I’ve been in the publishing business a long time. (I got my first job at Seventeen magazine when I was 21 years old.) So you’d think that writing a book would be no big deal to me, right? Wrong.

The day I held the first copy of Fast, Fresh & Green in my hands, I nearly cried I was so thrilled. It was beautiful and charming and there was that silly voice of mine all over the place, coaxing people into the kitchen to have fun. Somehow, my publisher, Chronicle Books, managed to let Susie be Susie, all the while infusing the book with their uniquely fresh design sensibility, making it feel so relevant, so very 2010, so luminous. A more grateful first-time author you couldn’t find.

That was back in January, when I got two copies of the book in the mail, straight from the printer. Because of the weird ways of publishing, I don’t actually have any more copies yet. My author copies will be shipped when the book “officially” leaves the warehouse to head for bookstores this Wednesday, April 28.

But (and like I said, this is weird stuff), the book started shipping from Amazon early last week, and Friday afternoon, the book reached #1 in the Vegetable category (and even hovered under 500 in the total books ranking for a few hours!). Now everyone knows that the Amazon rankings don’t really mean anything, but does that stop me from being proud? And does it mean I’m not excited about the new 5-star reviews that are up there from folks saying they’ve already found a place for Fast, Fresh & Green on their cookbook shelf of “favorites?” Of course not—I’m human. And heck, you only have a first book once, so why not totally give in to the thrill.

The book is also out early in Anthropologie stores all over the country and in Canada. This really tickles me, as I bought many of the props for the photos in the book from Anthropologie, just because I love their sensibility. It also tickles me because friends and family members have been spotting the book in their local Anthropologie and emailing photos of the displays to me. Which leads me to this: You don’t just write—or publish—a book in a vacuum. Your friends, your family, your professional colleagues—they offer so much support and encouragement as you go along that the book really becomes theirs, too.  They’re just as proud as you are, so they should share in the excitement. That’s why I feel like it’s important to spread the good news around when it comes along, whether I do that by Facebook, on Twitter, on sixburnersue.com, or with a simple email.

To be honest, this good news doesn’t just “come along.” Promoting a book is actually more work, and involves more people, than the actual writing of a book, and I have an incredible team at Chronicle Books, my friends at Fine Cooking magazine and finecooking.com, the good people at Edible Communities, and an enthusiastic group of independent booksellers on my home turf of Martha’s Vineyard to thank profusely. (Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven is kindly staging an author event for me on Friday, May 7, to officially “launch” Fast, Fresh & Green on the Island. Wherever you live, be sure to patronize your local independent bookstore!).

In honor of official publication week, I thought I’d post a few of the incredible photos in the book and one of my favorite recipes. The photos (above) were taken over a four-day period in my home by fabulous photographer Ben Fink. Food stylist Michelli Knauer prepared and styled the food for the camera with the help of Safaya Tork. I planned and propped each shot, bought the ingredients, and worked with Ben and Michelli during the shoot to get the best results possible. And of course all of the food for the camera was shot exactly as the recipe was written (no fakery), and none of those recipes would be as good as they are without the efforts of my terrific cross-tester, Jessica Bard.

Publishing a book is a lot of work (and not the ticket to riches as many folks believe), but it is a thrill, plain and simple. Especially the first one—though I hope to find out what it feels like to be a second-time author, too!

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Sweet Potato “Mini-Fries” with Limey Dipping Sauce

These oven fries are addictive, even though they don’t get as crisp as deep-fried sweet potatoes. I cut them into little sticks and sometimes serve them straight off the sheet pan (with more salt) to guests gathering in the kitchen. They always disappear quickly. The easy little limey dipping sauce is also great with grilled fish, crabcakes, and steamed asparagus.

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1 pound unpeeled sweet potatoes (about 2 small)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning

Spiced Salt (recipe follows)

Limey Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

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Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18- x 13- x 1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Cut the sweet potatoes crosswise on a slight diagonal into 3/8-inch-thick slices. (If the sweet potato is very narrow at one end, you can cut slices at a very sharp angle at that end.) Cut each slice (along the longest side) into sticks between ¼- and 3/8-inch wide. (They will only be a couple inches long.) Put all the sticks in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly with the olive oil and the 1 teaspoon salt. Spread the sweet potatoes out in one layer on the baking sheet, making sure to scrape all the oil and salt from the bowl onto them.

Roast for 20 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the sticks over and continue cooking, flipping once or twice more, until the fries are nicely browned (some in spots, some all over), about another 10 minutes. Sprinkle some of the Spiced Salt or more kosher salt (be generous and do not skip this step!) on the fries, toss well, and serve with the dipping sauce.

Serves 3 to 4

Limey Dipping Sauce

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1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon finely minced garlic

a pinch of kosher salt

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In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, the lime zest, the lime juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt. Whisk well to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Spiced Salt

This keeps in a tightly sealed container for several weeks.

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1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon paprika

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In a small bowl, stir together all of the spices.