Mondays, many people always dread this. Is it because their weekend is over and they have to go back to work? Or are they completely devastated by doing nothing? Both are very possible. In any case, I have no negative feeling at all about Mondays. In the years that I worked in the hospitality industry, Mondays and Tuesdays were often my days off. Those were the days when I had weekends, so to speak. And since I no longer work in the hospitality industry, I always have a good feeling on Sunday evenings. Then I think about the new week that is about to begin, full of new opportunities.
A new week offers many new possibilities, new opportunities and new adventures. One of the nicest, but also one of the most annoying things about life is that you don’t have everything under control, but you can do your best to make something good out of many things. Every new week offers new opportunities to make it your best week. And a new week for me often means creating and trying new recipes.
Lately I often wonder what people like to eat and why. Do the seasons have anything to do with it? With Christmas approaching, do people feel more like pies, chocolate and meat roulades? At least in gingerbread cookies, if I look around on instagram like that. The question of what someone else will like is something that really occupies me when developing recipes and dishes. But how do you actually find out?
Usually on Mondays and Tuesdays I sit at my laptop, devising my work and cooking plans for the following weeks and the recipes I want to make. I see this as my office moment and I also enjoy it a lot. Add a cup of matcha and something to eat and then calmly do my thing. Surf the internet, get inspired and also make my shopping list per dish. Writing a cookbook and keeping a blog up to date takes a lot of time and attention. That’s why I decided to dedicate part of my Mondays to illuminating ingredients. How is an ingredient used, what is its origin and what effect does it have on your body? I want to share this information with you on Mondays, not to forget the recipes that you can make with it.
You may have realized that I can never sit still. Cooking is the only thing that gives me peace of mind again. I want to create the perfect flavor for a dish, and I do that by experimenting with everything I have in my kitchen! I also like to know what my readers like. So don’t be shy and leave a message about what you like or like to see more often!
Every month I will highlight an ingredient on my blog and every Monday I will post new recipes with this ingredient. Some recipes are traditional and a bit old-fashioned, others are inspiration recipes or crazy experiments! And this week I am putting my spotlight on the sweet potato. Recently I had bought several kilos of it at the market to make dishes and recipes with it, so that’s good! The woman also asked if I had a special recipe, but I didn’t understand and I said no. Only later did I realize that she was curious why I was buying so many kilos!
The sweet potato, in the spotlight:
What is a sweet potato and where does it come from?
Contrary to what the name suggests, the sweet potato (Latin name * Ipomoea batatas *) is not related to the common potato. The potato comes from the nightshade family (just like the aubergine, bell pepper and tomato) while the sweet potato is a member of the bindweed family. The origin of the sweet potato as a food crop is in South America, where the Incas cultivated sweet potatoes long before our era. The Spanish brought the sweet potato on their voyages of discovery to Europe.
Sometimes there can be some confusion between sweet potatoes and the yams that some American recipes talk about. That is a completely different kind of ‘potatoes’.
How do I recognize a sweet potato?
Sweet potatoes can vary in shape from elongated to round. The copies that are imported into the Netherlands are often light yellow to purple-red in color. If you open a sweet potato you will see that it is very different from the regular potato on the inside. That is crazy the first time you see it, because from the outside sweet and normal potatoes look almost the same.
What does the missing potato taste like?
The taste of the sweet potato is most like the taste of a carrot, which is also very close in color. The taste is quite sweet and when you cook a sweet potato in the oven it gets a soft texture. The name of the tuber says it all: they are sweet and therefore you have to be careful not to use too much sweetness during cooking.
Where do these pearls grow?
Today these are grown in Asia, North and South America and often in New Zealand as well. The largest producers are China and the United States. Sweet potatoes need plenty of water and warm summers and nights to grow big. They are available almost all year round because you can store the sweet potatoes for a very long time. Sweet potatoes are still good up to a year later, provided they have been stored in a dark and dry place. How crazy isn’t it? Normal potatoes would usually turn green after a week. But it is very difficult to grow sweet potatoes in Europe, so they are often imported from other countries. Growing and harvesting is very labor intensive and the sweet potatoes have been grown with great care and effort and brought to Europe, so cook them with love!
How do you keep them?
In any case, not in the fridge, as that makes them dark and you can no longer cook with them! A cool and dark environment works well. You can keep them there for at least 2 to 3 weeks. With me they are in a basket, on a rack against the wall, dark and cool as it should be.
What good do they offer your body?
Sweet potatoes are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They say the orange kind is packed with antioxidants, which protect your body from free radicals and can also protect against cancer. I will come back to this later. Due to their richness in fiber, sweet potatoes are said to improve your intestinal function and also maintain your intestinal flora.
They are also rich in beta-carotene, the antioxidant responsible for the potato’s color. This antioxidant is very good for your vision, just like carrots! A sweet potato contains a lot of this substance. Beta carotene is a vegetable substance that is converted in the body into vitamin A, which is good for your immune system.
What do sweet potatoes go well with?
Usually an important question: which herbs and other ingredients go well together? Cinnamon and nutmeg give sweet potatoes a delicious taste. Salt is also a good flavor combination, which is perhaps why I love sweet potato fries. Spicyness and tomato also go well with it, as does citrus flavor. Flavorful meat goes well with it, such as bacon and other pork or even duck. And my topper is sweet potato with crème fraiche or thick cream with a hint of lemon. Or vanilla, but you’ll have to be patient before I share all my secrets with you!
Sweet potatoes have many advantages: they are good for you and fit in many types of dishes. I myself am not a fan of potatoes, but I do like these orange pearls. I have to admit that since I started cooking more with sweet potato, a whole new world has opened up for me! And that is why I decided to get started with this top ingredient and introduce you to it. Sweet potatoes are not only good as a puree or as fries, but for much more such as pies, pastries and even as a bread substitute!
It’s really easy to add this vegetable to your daily recipes. You can bake them, fry them, prepare them in the oven, steam them and more. In the coming weeks I will show you how to easily add sweet potatoes to your daily diet!
Now the recipe for a quick sweet potato from the oven
What do you need? A sweet potato, olive oil, salt, pepper and some Provençal herbs.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash and peel the sweet potato, cut it into 2 cm cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and the herbs. Toss until oil and spices are evenly distributed over the sweet potatoes. Now put the cubes in an oven dish and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces.
You can eat the sweet potatoes straight from the oven, add them to other dishes or keep them for the next few days. I make sweet potatoes this way once or twice a week so that I always have pieces on hand.
And now you have to wait patiently.
I’ll be sharing more recipes with you in the following days. I am so curious what you think!
Do you have fun and tasty sweet potato recipes? Or do you have an addition to my blog? Let me know! I always enjoy sharing experiences with readers and exchanging recipes.