Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad

Upon first glance (and second, really), this is a really bizarre recipe. Lots of flavors one wouldn't typically expect to be together. But I kept reading rave reviews about the recipe, so... I tried it! And it is DELICIOUS! Kind of weird at first but VERY good. You have to REALLY like feta, and it helps to like olives! I wouldn't omit the olives. I reduced the amount of cumin and felt that was a good choice because the basic flavors don't need a lot of seasoning besides salt and pepper (and cayenne...). I omitted the fresh cilantro (using tubed instead) and I used some fat-free Greek yogurt dolloped on top. My feta was low fat and from a cow, definitely not a sheep. I would make this again.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad

2 large sweet potatoes, 3/4-1 lb each
200g (about 1/2 lb) block good feta cheese (sheep's milk is the best - try feta imported from Greece or France), cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
2/3 cup black oil-cured olives (or other high-quality olives), pitted and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground ok)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (ground ok)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

something cool and creamy to dollop on top: sour cream, yogurt, tzaziki... even hummus!

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Wash the potatoes to rid them of any dirt and place on a foil-lined baking pan in the oven (no need to prick them). Bake until they are completely soft, about 45-60 minutes (depending on their size).

While the potatoes are roasting, make the salad. I like to toast the cumin and coriander seeds before using them, but you don't have to. If you do, just heat them in a dry pan, stirring often, until they smell fragrant and toasty. Set aside to cool, then crush them coarsely in a mortar or with the back of a heavy knife (if using whole seeds). Mix together all the salad ingredients in a bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge until the potatoes are done (add a little more olive oil if it seems dry). When they are, remove them from the oven and place on plates. Slice them lengthwise down the center, folding open to reveal the orange flesh inside. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pile half the feta salad on each potato, and eat!

Yield: 2 for a main dish or 4 as a side

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