Newly reinstated Southerner that I am, I've happily embraced the irony of my new favorite thing to cook. I've always known sweet potatoes were associated with the South, and with some Internet research under my belt can now say why -- they were originally brought to the U.S. via the South around the 17th century (along with other East African foods like sesame, peanuts, okra, black-eyed peas and collards).
Unlike a lot of other Southern associated foods, they're actually really good for you, high in fiber, protein, iron, calcium, complex carbs, and vitamins A and C. Turns out that Louisiana is the third largest sweet potato growing state in the country, after California and North Carolina.
Recipe: One large sweet potato is enough for two people. Preheat oven to between 350 and 400 degrees. Julienne potato and lay on a baking pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with table salt or sea salt if you have it. Bake for around 45 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are sizzling and a little crisp. And it's probably a good idea to turn on the oven fan so that you don't have to interrupt your cooking groove to fan the smoke alarm. Twice. Whoops.
I'm still figuring out the best way to lay the potatoes on the baking pan, testing out using cooking spray vs. no cooking spray, foil or no foil, and how much olive oil to drizzle. I'm also still working on my cutting skills -- me thinks a mandoline will be my next kitchen purchase.
Though the fries don't really need a dipping sauce, you can use ketchup, or mix low-fat mayo with red pepper and enjoy the kick. You can also toss some onions in with the potatoes for extra flavor like I did in the picture up top (onion goggles and all!). Another option is to grate a light layer of cheese like parmesan or gouda on top when they come out of the oven.
Last night to accompany the fries (yes, I'm so addicted that the fries need the accompaniment and not the other way around), Jon and I made portobello mushroom burgers. I found this recipe on Food TV's site and doctored it to suit my mood. For the marinade, I substituted basil for rosemary, and for the cheese I mixed some more basil in with goat's milk feta and a little cracked pepper. We don't yet have an outdoor grill, but the stovetop grill pan did the trick. Each side cooked for under five minutes and when the mushrooms were gill side up, I topped them with the cheese mixture and let it melt a bit. The wheat buns were good toasted and spread with a little of the mayo sauce.
For dessert, we melted hot fudge sauce onto slices of angel food cake (which is fat free) and dotted them with blackberries. All in all, a pretty healthy meal for any region's standards.