Sweet Potato Latkes

When life — or the season — gives you sweet potatoes, the creativity comes out. It turns out, these great veggies are pretty much in season all year round in Southern California. What I used to think of as a holiday food, served over-sweet and mushy, is now an everyday part of my cooking repertoire.

Thus, yes, allowing me to prove I can serve meals that don’t feature ordinary rice or variations on regular potatoes. Add the obligatory comments about the healthiness and lower calorie count of sweet potatoes here (and those claims are, of course true).

Since I’m not Jewish, latkes are just another way to make potatoes interesting. And since I usually have more sweet potatoes than regular potatoes on hand, well, the connection was obvious. When I searched for basic recipes, I was pleasantly surprised to find a recipe by my friend Sarah topping the search results (see the link in the Notes section). Her recipe was the basis for mine.

Needless to say, I make enough for leftovers during the week. Yummy!

More Roasted Veggies

As noted in my recipe for Roasted Carrots, I roast almost all of my vegetables. They simply taste better that way. There are two keys to roasting vegetables: high heat and evenly sized vegetables.

Oh, and some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Everything else is just a variation on the theme.

Also, don’t crowd your vegetables, and make sure as much of the vegetable as possible is touching the pan. It’s that contact with the heat that matters. Here are a few more tips on roasting vegetables.

If I’m using my oven to roast veggies, I cook in the upper third of my oven and turn once or twice during the cooking process. If I’m using the grill, I keep an eye on the vegetables to ensure even browning (versus, you know, burning). You want to achieve a nice level of caramelization — a deep golden brown shade.

How to Roast

  1. Preheat your oven or grill to 425 degrees.
  2. Make sure your vegetables are about the same size.
  3. Toss with olive oil (a few tablespoons usually does the trick)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Other herbs and spices can be used as well.
  5. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until you have a good number of caramelized spots. Turn once or twice during the cooking process if necessary. Different veggies cook at different times, so pay attention!
  6. Eat!

So what can you roast? Read on, my friends, read on. This is, obviously, not a complete list…use your imagination.

  • Asparagus. Break off the woody ends, otherwise leave whole. If you’re adding to a pasta, you can cut into smaller pieces, then roast. Asparagus cooks pretty fast, so check at the fifteen minute mark.
  • Bell peppers. Cut into strips and roast.
  • Broccoli. I love roasted broccoli. Cut into 1 − 1 1/2 inch florets. The ends will get very brown, but that’s a good thing. You can also roast the stems. 
  • Cauliflower. Oh, roasted cauliflower is especially good (and use the leftovers as the basis for a great soup; or just, you know, roast the cauliflower for the soup). Cut into 1 − 1 1/2 inch pieces. Or make roasted cauliflower “steaks”: cut the head of cauliflower into 1/2 inch thick slices, brush olive oil onto both sides, add salt and pepper, and roast, turning once. Yummy!
  • Parsnips. Roast like carrots — diagonal chunks or whole (cut in half if the parsnips are especially thick).
  • Sweet Potatoes. Cut into 1-inch chunks, and serve as a meal or make part of a great sweet potato salad. You’re welcome.
  • Turnips. Cut into 1-inch chunks and discover what you’ve been missing all these years.
  • Zucchini. I usually cut my zucchini in half or quarters (lengthwise) and roast away.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

One thing I’ve learned from my regular delivery of organic fruits and veggies is that sweet potatoes are pretty much a year-round food in Southern California. After trying my friend Roxanne’s incredible sweet potato salad at a dinner she hosted, I begged for her recipe when it became apparent I had a glut of sweet potatoes.

She sent two of her favorites, and I found myself blending them together (of course!). Needless to say, this is the type of salad that invites creativity. I’ve included some suggestions at the end of the recipe and invite you to use your own imagination for variations.

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