Monday, October 29, 2012

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

This dish has become a staple dinner item in my house. It is so simple yet I find that I look forward to it every time I make it. It is a great meal to have towards the end of the week when you may have random leftover veggies or leftover beans etc. that you are looking for something to do with.
In this edition of "Loaded Sweet Potatoes" I have done a fresh mex sort of potato, and this is probably my favorite to date. The fun part is that you can make this a variety of ways... either with leftovers as mentioned above, or with a theme. Spanish, Thai, Mediterranean, which ever flavors you choose. I find that it is best to mix textures for best results: a creamy sauce, beans or seitan for protein and bite, onions, nuts or seeds for crunch. The basic technique is as follows:

1.) Select a nice, medium sized sweet potato for each person that you are feeding.
2.) Preheat the oven to 375.
3.) Put some seasoning on the outside of the sweet potato. I take about a teaspoon of oil per potato and mix it in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and whichever spices might go best with the "theme" of that evenings potato. In this instance I used cumin, garlic, and chili powders for the the fresh mex potatoes. Once you have mixed your spices with the oil, brush the outside of the potato with the seasoned oil. Then take a fork and make a couple of holes in the potato for steam to escape. They will look like this:
The amount of time that you bake them will depend on the size of the potatoes. These guys took about 35 -40 minutes. After about 30 minutes check them to see if they are fork tender all the way through. If not, let them go another 10 minutes and then check again. You want them to be fork tender but not mushy. While your potatoes are baking you will want to have the remaining ingredients prepared.
4.) Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly.
5.) Use a fork and knife to gently split them open most of the way, lengthwise.
6.) Load your potatoes! In this case I did the following:
- I put a "cheeze"sauce in first to get all melty into the potato.
- Then a layer of warm seasoned black beans
- A few strips of sauteed seitan
- Fresh tomatoes
- Homemade guacamole
- Daiya cheese
- Scallions
- Sunflower seeds

This dish is fun to eat because you get to deconstruct your potato while getting to enjoy all of the flavors in each bite. I find that I can eat this all year round, and I don't think I have made it the same way twice. This dish is also husband approved!

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