For the past few years, Dylan and I have been in the somewhat unusual position of supervising an apartment building full of undergraduates. Supervising is perhaps too strong a word (we’re technically resident associates and apartment managers) because year after year, our residents prove to be remarkably self-sufficient, requiring little more than assistance with a lock-out or a dessert night now and then. Living with them occasionally poses the challenge of dealing with late night loud noise or messes in the courtyard, but there are also the unexpected benefits. The small university where we live happens to offer an intensive recreational cooking course and students in this class take home not only the products of their labors, but oftentimes large quantities of extra ingredients that have gone unused. Cha-ching!
Such is how we recently inherited more sweet potatoes and pears than two people (plus one non-food eating baby) could possibly hope to eat. The pears quickly went into a lucious pear sorbet (yeah, it’s winter, but we’re in Southern California!) and a dreamy pear-cardamom upside down cake (soon to be posted). As for the sweet potatoes, luckily they have a longer shelf life because we’re still working on them. The first dish I made with them was this very nice little salad found here on the New York Times website.
It doesn’t look like much, but with a very tangy dressing, yummy sweet potato “croutons” and a helping of feta cheese, it was a surprisingly bright and punchy start to dinner one night. I could imagine putting the “croutons” on all sorts of things- in fact a healthy number of them went straight from the roasting pan into my mouth as I prepared the rest of dinner. If you’ve still got a post-holiday hankering for sweet potatoes but want to avoid heavier, fattier dishes, this light, but flavorful salad may be right up your alley. As for me, I’m still searching out more new and interesting ways to use the remainder of our sweet potato jackpot.
Salad greens with sweet potato croutons and feta (serves 4)
For the salad:
1 large sweet potato (10 to 12 ounces), peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 6-ounce bag baby salad greens (I used baby spinach)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, chervil, chives
2 ounces feta, stilton or blue cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces (about 1/2 cup)
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (I subbed lemon)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used this trick)
1. Steam the sweet potatoes for 5 minutes, until just tender. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
2. In a medium, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, shaking the pan and moving the pieces around often, until evenly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
3. Whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt pepper, olive oil and buttermilk.
4. Place the salad greens in a salad bowl and top with the cheese. Toss with the dressing. Sprinkle on the sweet potato croutons and serve.