Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Potatoes My Sweet?

Let me introduce you to the humble sweet potato. These bright orange fleshed potatoes sometimes known as yams can be used in very much the same way as regular white fleshed potatoes (baked, mashed or roasted). They make delicious potato wedges and are also great in soups and vegetable curries. Sweet potatoes have some good health benefits over regular white and yellow fleshed potatoes. Firstly they are an excellent antioxidant as they are a very good source of beta cartotene (Vitamin A). One medium sweet potato will provide you with your recommended daily amount of Vitamin A.  They are also rich in vitamin C and E.  Sweet Potatoes have twice as much fibre as a white potato and a lower GI rating. Which means that the energy is released into your body more slowly and so you will feel full up and satisfied for longer. People often think that potatoes are fattening and that you should avoid them if you are trying to lose weight but 100g of sweet potato only has 93 calories compared to 230 calories in a standard portion of rice (65g)

I only started cooking with sweet potatoes a few years ago when I started having an organic vegetable box delivered each week. It has been a good way of getting to try vegetables I may not of thought of buying in the shops before and also experimenting with cooking them too. This week the box contained two large sweet potatoes.  I used one of them in a Mexican soup. The sweet potato formed the base of the soup along with onion and stock.  Once these ingredients were cooked they were blended. I then added some chopped red pepper, sweetcorn and red chilli. The sweet potato added a natural sweetness to the soup which compliments the spice of the chilli. An avocado salsa would work well as a topping. (mix together chopped coriander lime juice and diced avocado) I served it with some homemade sourdough bread but I think some tortilla chips would be nice too. With the other sweet potato I made some spicy sweet potato and sweetcorn burgers. These are really tasty and flavoursome and my husband and I were suprised how good a burger that does not contain meat can be. We enjoyed them in a burger bun with some sweet chilli sauce and I served them with homemade coleslaw. 

Mexican Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4

1 tsp of vegetable oil
1 small onion diced
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
1 tablespoon of plain flour
670ml (1 1/4 pint) of vegetable stock
150g of sweetcorn fresh, frozen or canned
1 small red pepper deeseded and diced
1/2 a red chilli finely chopped

avocado salsa to serve (optional)
1/2 an avocado diced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sweet potato then sweat for 5 minutes over a low heat
Add the flour and cook for a minute
Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until tender
Blend until smooth
Add the sweetcorn, red pepper and chilli and simmer for another 5 minutes
Season with ground black pepper
Make the avocado salsa by mixing together the avocado, lime juice and coriander. 
Serve the soup with the salsa and bread or a few tortilla chips

Sweet Potato and Sweetcorn Burgers

Makes 4-5

3 large sweet potatoes about 750g
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 red onion finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon of ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin
165g can of sweetcorn, drained
tablespoon of chopped coriander
100g polenta
burger buns, chilli sauce and salad leaves to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
Pierce the sweet potatoes and place them on a baking tray
Bake for 45 mins until soft
Leave to cool 
Meanwhile heat the oil in a small pan, add the onions and chilli and cook until soft
Peel the potatoes and mash together with  the onions and chillies and the spices
Add the sweetcorn, coriander and 50g of the polenta
Season with ground black pepper
Shape into 4-5 round burgers 
Dip into the remaining polenta and chill for at least 15-20 minutes 
You can either cook them in the oven 220C/Gas Mark 7 for 15 minutes, or for 5 minutes in a George Foreman or on a griddle pan
Serve in burger buns with chilli sauce and salad leaves

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