How to learn to love any vegetable? Put it in your dessert
This week, it's been a proper sweet potato fest in my kitchen.
What makes this more surprising than it might otherwise be is that I really don't like sweet potatoes. They are my orange tuber nemesis! I think I just don't like sweet flavours in savory food - I like things like cinnamon and nutmeg, but I much prefer them in dessert to lunch.
Anyway, I always feel that if there's a particular vegetable that I don't like, the fault is mine, not the vegetable's. With that in mind, I embarked on a mission: Project I Will Love Sweet Potatoes At all costs.
My first foray into sweet potato world is age jaga, a Japanese stew (apparently originally inspired by English meat and potato stews) made from carrots, onions, potatoes, sugar snap peas and age tofu. I make it fairly regularly as it's the best thing you can make in a single pan with minimum effort - just veggies and tofu with water, soy sauce, and mirin, left to do its thing while you get on with something else.
Normally, the potato element comes from new potatoes, but I with my mission in mind, I got some sweet potatoes to keep the newies company. Here's what happened:
It looks weirdly meaty in the picture there, but it really didn't in real life. It did taste fabulous though. It's one of those dishes that's heavy with umami, and it can be really hard to stop yourself having just one more spoonful.
Traditionally, age jaga has brown sugar in it, but I left it out (see my no-sweet-tastes-in-savoury-food grumble above!) as the sweet potatoes did a far better job of bringing a hint of sweet, but also delivered a load more flavour to boot.
Part two of learning to love sweet potatoes involved a more wonky strategy: adding sweet potato to dessert. Yep, adding it to dessert.
I'd seen a few recipes for just such a crazy notion (including this one), so I used elements from each to make up my own brownies. I think I ended up with a mix of sweet potato puree, potato starch, chickpea flour, flax egg, cocoa powder, vegan chocolate chips, walnuts, and some other stuff I can't even remember.
Give the frankenrecipe, I was surprised how darn good it turned out in the end. It wasn't a traditional brownie by any means, more like a chocolate mousse cake, rich and fudgy.
I coated them with melted dark chocolate for goodness (it's pictured above in its nude state). It didn't taste hugely (in fact, at all) of sweet potatoes, but as a way to learn to love a vegetable, eating it covered in chocolate is pretty much up there with the best of them.
And summer has finally arrived in London. The weather is beautiful here, so I've been ditching hot food for big made up plates of salad using whatever happens to be in my fridge at the time.
First up, a sort of Middle Eastern arrangement. There's some pickled turnip (the pink cubes up top), falafel (not made by me), pitta bread (also store bought), baba ganoush (that was made by me), and Turkish everday beans and pumpkin, carrot and caraway salads, adapted from recipes in Veggiestan (adapted according to which of the ingredients I had at the time!)