I’ve been a rather naughty girl this week, digressing from the path of local, regional or British grown vegetables. First it was D with his request of okra. Although imported okra is available all year round, the okra peak season is the summer which we just missed of course. Now its my turn with the sweet potato. Even though Autumn sees the start of sweet potato season, this vegetable is not mass produced in the U.K, much of it is imported from the States. I decided I was not going to miss out on this seasonal import, the way I had just missed out on the sweet juicy mango.
One of my favourite ways to eat sweet potato is as oven baked chips. These were introduced to me by the innovative vegetarian cook Nadine Abensur. Not literally of course, but through her cookbooks. In 2000, her recipes, cookbooks and way of cooking introduced me to a new way of cooking, eating and enjoying vegetables. Nadine Abensur style of cooking also introduced me to other world flavours such as sumac, za’atar, ras el hanout and tahini, the way Yotom Ottolenghi does now, 10 years on.
Nadines sweet potato chips are made quite simply with just a light seasoning of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and served with a coriander pesto which I've enjoyed many times, but the ones I enjoyed earlier today were spiced up a notch. The heat warmth was welcomed after being bish bashed a little by the blustery wind outside.
I think this spice coating would work well with slathered over sliced pumpkin and squash too. So for those of you have some, why not give it a go.
Spiced Sweet potato chips with coriander pesto
Serves 2 greedy people or 4 with accompaniments
500g sweet potatoes
For the spice paste
1 teaspoon salt
2 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large wedges. Put all the dry ingredients for the spice paste into a mortar and grind together as fine as you can get. Then add the oil and lemon juice and mix well. Toss the sweet potatoes in the spice paste, making sure they are well coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and crisp. Serve these either with chilli jam or coriander pesto (recipe below).
About 160g coriander, leaves only
2 tablespoons whole almonds (I used almond flakes as that’s all I had)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
2 green chillies, chopped
Salt to taste
Chop the coriander with a very sharp knife. Pound the almonds in a pestle and mortar or chop in a food processor. Mix these two ingredients with the garlic and then add the remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt. Adapted from the Cranks Fast Food.