Saturday, November 6, 2010

Produce of the Week: Sweet Potato

Vegan Month of Food is in full-swing, and we are on to week numero deux. After playing around with different ideas, I finally decided that this week my posts would center on the common theme of Asian and African food dilemmas. These two continents house a good half the planet's population, not to mention the poorest, most food-insecure portion. So, each night (and hopefully not this late) I will discuss an issue or an article tied to my food.

Well, right now I am actually covering three bases: Vegan MoFo, Produce of the Week, and this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge! Our star of the evening is a tuberous root, it comes in various shades of browns, oranges, and purples, and hails from South America. As one of the staple crops of the indigenous groups and local farmers, it is no surprise that this very very distant relative of the potato was domesticated 5,000 years ago! Of course now, it is cultivated throughout the tropical regions of the world and holds a place as a nutritious, calorie-dense crop. The wikipedia article is actually really fantastic, so I will let you peruse that at your leisure while I continue.

I recently ran across this video on the website of an organization called ONE. While we've already determined that the sweet potato is a native of the Americas, this highlights the important role that the tuber is playing in the livelihoods of people in developing nations around the world. There is considerable work taking place on the breeding of sweet potatoes, so check out this article courtesy of the International Potato Center.

So what did I make with my sweet potatoes? Well, I happened to grab a bit at Teaism last week before yoga and had this fabulous sweet potato salad! I had to recreate it, so here is my attempt (not quite the same, but very tasty!)

Miso Sweet Potato Salad
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 recipe miso dressing (below)
Oil to coat pan or toss cubes

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Stick potato cubes in a pan, somehow oiled so the taters don't stick.
2. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip. Roast another 15 or so, until tender.
3. Coat in dressing. Enjoy!

Sesame Miso Dressing
2 tbs tahini
1 tbs miso (I used brown rice miso)
1 tbs agave nectar
1 tsp soy sauce
3 tbs water
What else can I do with sweet potatoes? Better question is, what can't you do? Anywho, here are a few exciting things to try out with my favorite root!

I'm smitten with Smitten Kitchen's sweet potato wedges and the curried lentils!
Loving my Indian food, I was drooling over this sweet potato naan.
If you are more of a Mediterranean type, try 101 Cookbooks' sweet potato falafel.
And Grist recently put out a sweet potato pie that looked very rustic!
Finally, yum.

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