My blog of choice here at Chew on That seems to be guilty food confessions, so here is another cathartic truth (so appropriate at the start of Lent). I have done a great disservice to sweet potatoes over the years. Rather than enjoy the great flavor of these more interesting potatoes, I have consorted with my older sister to drown them under a sea of baked marshmallows at each and every family gathering. My mom's back would turn and we would sneak another bag of the mini-variety on top of the casserole and pop it back into the oven. Basically, the sweet potatoes functioned merely as a base or holder for the marshmallowy goodness, and an excuse to sneak more sugar past my health-conscious mother. For this, dear sweet potato, I apologize.
As you must already be aware, today is National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, and I plan to redeem myself. (I have no idea who has the final authority on these crazy food holidays, but I would love the job.) It also happens to be National Margarita Day (perhaps a rival faction from the foodies responsible for sweet potato day), and I certainly cannot let this festive food holiday pass me by either. While you might think the combination would present a problem, I have a solution to honor both foods equally at my dinner table. The lime.
A proper margarita should always be made with several *fresh* limes. Take the juice of one lime and mix it with tequila, triple sec, and ice for the perfect margarita. Garnish with a glass-rim covered in salt and several lime wedges. Perfecto. If you purchase several limes at the store, you will have plenty leftover from drink-slinging for a delicious preparation of your sweet potatoes. Lime, cilantro, and cayenne pepper bring an interesting twist to sweet potatoes, while still allowing their great flavor to come through.
Lime Cilantro Sweet Potatoes
2 lb. sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh lime zest
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes with 2 Tbs. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt in a shallow baking pan. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 25 minutes total. Stir together cayenne, zest, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Whisk together lime juice and remaining Tbs. oil in a medium bowl, then add potatoes. Sprinkle with cayenne mixture and cilantro, stirring gently to combine. Sauté onions and bell pepper in margarine for 5 minutes. Add squash that has been sliced and cubed. Sauté 5 minutes more add tomatoes (break up whole tomatoes). Cook for 5 more minutes. Add bread cubes and seasonings. Put in 2 quart casserole and sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
Happy National Margarita and Go Cook a Sweet Potato Day! Now go celebrate!