Okay, quick, when I say “potato salad” what do you think of? First associations, no cheating now. I bet you thought of summer and picnics, didn’t you?
And if you live in the Northeast, you probably thought of how summer of 2009 cheated you of the appropriate number of picnics. And now that we’re in the full swing of fall, there’s no turning back. Pumpkins and squash in the farmers market have replaced tomatoes and berries. The mornings are darker; the day lights hours – shorter. We wear layers. We carry umbrellas. We switch our closets out to winter clothing – a task that somehow always takes longer than you’d think. I have no explanation for this strange phenomenon; it would seem pretty straightforward: sweaters in, sun-dresses out. Right? And yet somehow it’s more tricky than this.
And since we’re about as deep into fall as we can get (oh, yes, I know that November is all but knocking on the door) we’re pretty much done with the picnic season. While I’m sorry to just dangle the carrot in front of you, please don’t hate me because I’m going somewhere here with this. While the potato salad conjures up images of summer and cook-outs, I’d like to introduce you to my new fall staple – the sweet potato salad. This is all about the cozy and the comfortable. Think you, flannel, mulled cider and this salad. Some dim lighting and softly-playing music. You might even have a blanket nearby. There, doesn’t fall sound absolutely wonderful?
I first spied this recipe over at Mark Bittman’s New York Times Bitten blog and instantly knew it was going to become a new favorite. I’m not sure if it’s the jalapeno-lime dressing, or the roasting of onions and potatoes, which instantly gives them a more hearty, smokier flavor than if you were instead to boil the sweet potatoes. And Mark mentions that roasting gives the potatoes a tougher exterior so they keep their shape better when you mix all the ingredients (remember how smushed the regular potatoes get in a traditional potato salad?) One glance and the recipe held my attention. It was something old, yet something new. A seasonally updated twist on the known that sounded healthy, delicious and made me excited to go to the farmers market and see beautiful sweet potatoes laid out on farmers’ stands. Summer – I’d hardly thought of it.
Speaking of new and updated, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you some of the new features on Sassy Radish. That’s right – new things are abound if you poke around a bit. I’ve been joking to my friends that Sassy Radish got a face-lift, but it’s more like it got that and a few fillers to plump it up. Hey, anything to keep looking good for you, folks! So what do we have around here that might be of interest?
1. Goodbye MovableType, hello WordPress – that’s right, I made the publishing platform leap and switched teams. Lately, comment spam got to be so unwieldy in MT and I just didn’t have time to manually (yes, you read that correctly – manually) clean them out, because they were coming thousands a day. I heard from many people that WP has a terrific plug-in that catches spam way better than any other, and so I decided to take that leap. These wonderful people pulled all this off in a week. And put up with my late night emails (yes, there’s a time difference, but nonetheless).
2. Print feature – I know many of you have written and said there’s no way to print the recipe and guess what? Now you can! At the bottom of each recipe there’s a print link – and it prints with a picture – how awesome is that?
3. Updated recipe indices – the regular recipe index is still in place, but now you have a recipe index by month and a recipe index by topic/ingredient (that tag cloud you see below) – you can sort by that.
4. FAQ page – the questions are coming, but if you think there’s something that should be on it that you’d like to see, drop me an email and I’ll include your question.
5. There’s a conversions link – convert grams to ounces and back – without whipping out your calculator or trying to do math in your head (fun, but not without consequences, especially if cooking with bourbon and, um, having a taste).
6. Subscribe by email – you can now get Sassy Radish updates without having to check your RSS reader or the actual page. Content can get delivered to your inbox, which is particularly useful if your employer blocks everything but CNN, Bloomberg and the New York Times (big banks, I am looking at you).
8. My updated blogroll – it’s now pulling from my good reader and is dynamic. So when I subscribe to something new – it will reflect that as well.
9. Earlier posts – want to go back in time and see what I cooked up months prior, but wish to see the time line? At the bottom of each page, there are now links called “earlier posts”.
10. It looks like there are still a few kinks being ironed out but for now: PLEASE UPDATE YOUR RSS READER FEEDS: be it Google reader or something else.
So change, much as I like to resist it, is good. Especially change that replaces a traditional staple with a delicious updated one. This is a hearty and filling salad, but one that won’t leave you feeling sluggish or heavy. In fact, its crisp, bright, spicy notes will energize you and give you a spring in your step. And we could always use a bit more of that in the dark fall hours.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing
Adapted from Mark Bittman, NYTimes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.
Yield: 4 servings.