Winter food: Apples and sweet potatoes
It’s turning out to be a busy January for me. Between work and play rehearsals, I have little time to cook most evenings, so I try to find time on the weekends to make two or three good-sized dishes I can reheat through the week to keep me from resorting to drive-through meals.
This weekend it’s a pair of roasted pork tenderloins and a hearty, aromatic side dish of apples and baby sweet potatoes that isn’t much different in preparation from good old apple crisp, except that it’s considerably less sweet. I use about one part sweet potatoes to three parts apple, but you can adjust the proportions to suit your own tastes.
Have you tried baby sweet potatoes? I first encountered them last winter, and was glad to see them at the supermarket again this year. Like most “baby” vegetables, they aren’t immature, they’re just a pint-sized variety of their bigger cousins. I love them; well-scrubbed, rubbed with a little oil and tossed in a hot oven, they roast up in under 30 minutes. Or try this recipe for salt-crusted baby sweet potatoes – delicious!
The bags I buy include both the sweet, creamy red varieties and their less-sweet yellow cousins (yes, these are both sweet potatoes, Ipomoea batatas, not yams. True yams are members of the Dioscorea family, and aren’t much found outside of South America). They are not, alas, local – they come from California – but the apples were!
Apple and Sweet Potato Crunch
- 3 Granny Smith apples, or other tart variety, peeled, cored, cut in half-inch thick chunks
- 5-6 baby sweet potatoes, or 1 (peeled) regular-sized sweet potato, cut like the apples.
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 cup uncooked steel-cut oats (or regular old rolled oats, as long as they aren’t the instant kind)
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp each of cinnamon and allspice
- a dash of cloves
- a dash of nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp of high-quality candied ginger (try Trader Joe’s Ginger Chips if you can find them!), chopped
- 1/4 cup butter, cut in small pieces
Preheat oven to 350F. Place apples and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix remaining ingredients except for butter, and toss half of that mixture with the apple-sweet potato mixture. Place in a baking dish – shallow or deep, it’s your choice, and sprinkle the rest of the spicy oat mixture evenly over the top. Dot with butter.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples and potatoes are fork-tender and juice is bubbling up. Serve hot, as a side dish – or as a not-too-sweet dessert with cream or ice cream on top.