Friday, 10 August 2007

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Only in Sydney can one be wearing a winter coat one day and have a BBQ the next. I feel that spring is in the air and that instantly lifts my mood. I made this salad last weekend. Quikong went to the fish market to get some seafood which he cooked on the grill. It was suprisingly warm enough for us to sit in our backyard.

The produce that I wanted to highlight is the humble sweet potato. It is so versatile because it can be used in both savoury and sweet recipes. I used the brown skinned (orange fleshed) sweet potato for this salad. Less common in my family's kitchen is the purple skinned (white fleshed) sweet potato (photo below). Some people think that there is little difference in the flavours but when I was at the market, a man hawking his goods was trying to convince me to buy the purple sweet potatoes because "it's sweeter, sister!!". So, for the sake of "research", I bought both types, baked thick slices of each variety and did a taste test. I think that the orange-fleshed variety has a richer, deeper sweetness than the white-fleshed variety. But you will have to try it out for yourself and tell me what you think.

Since this post is for the Weekend Herb Blogging event which will be hosted this time by Melissa from The Cooking Diva, I had to do a bit of research about the sweet potato. I assumed that it was native to Asia since it thrives in moist, hot climates. Sweet potatoes are actually native to south America. At least I got the moist and hot part correct.

Sweet potatoes can be boiled, steamed, fried, grilled, baked. Basically anything goes. Even its leaves and shoots are edible. I love sweet potato in salads, a pie, candied, mashed, puddings and also made into not-so-healthy chips (crisps).

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

1 medium orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 yellow capsicum(bell pepper)
1 red onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 garlic shoot*, chopped
baby spinach leaves
garlic infused olive oil
lemon juice
pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
salt & pepper

(*garlic shoot is like a firmer chive which tastes like a cross between an asparagus and mild garlic. It can be eaten raw or cooked in stir-fries)

Preparation: Toss the sweet potato and onion in a little olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Knowing that Quikong was going to BBQ the seafood, I decided to grill the sliced sweet potato, capsicum and red onion wedges. When the skin of the capsicum starts to char, I placed it into a plastic container (or zip lock bag is also fine) to allow it to "sweat". Then, I removed the skin, sliced it thinly and marinated it in garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.

Assemble the salad: Place the spinach leaves on the plate, then the grilled sweet potato, then the marinated grilled capsicum. Drizzle some lemon juice and season with salt & pepper. Scatter the garlic shoots and pumpkin seeds over the salad.

Sushi and Sashimi Workshop:
On a different note, I am very excited because Quiking signed both of us up for a 4-hr Sushi and Sashimi workshop tomorrow with Hideo Dejura at the Sydney Seafood School. Hideo may not be as famous as Jamie Oliver, but he has written a few books and received awards. It's always fun to learn something new, food related or not. What is also great is that it was Quikong who suggested it and organised everything. I told you that he is a gourmand-in-denial!


Janet said...

That looks incredible! I love sweet potatoes (the orangey ones are more common around here). I especially love sweet potato fries, but this looks much healthier!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The combination of colors in this dish is irresistible! I love roasted sweet potatoes, but rarely grill them. Will give this a try.

Patricia Scarpin said...


I really like sweet potatoes but don't cook much with them - I should change that!
Your salad look so good and rich!

São Paulo has a crazy weather, too. One day we can have 10ºC and then 30ºC on the following.

KellytheCulinarian said...

How colorful! I'd love to eat more sweet pototato, thanks for the recipie.

Paola Westbeek said...

Your salad looks fantastic! I love sweet potatoes too, especially grilled and served with a little lemon juice, olive oil and a dash of oregano!

You guys are starting spring and it's feeling rather chilly here...and getting dark way too early for my liking! Let's trade places! ;)


Katie Zeller said...

Don't you just love those first warm days of spring?
I've never seen a purple/white sweet potato - interesting.
I did see some orange ones at the market today but never thought of grilling them... we're still cooking everything in the barbecue. Next week I'll get some and try your salad!

Nora B. said...

Janet - Thanks! I love sweet potato fries too.

Lydia - The colours reflected my mood that day because I was so happy when it gets warmer. Roasting or baking it is fine too. I grilled them just because it was easier since everything was going on the "barbie" anyway.

Patricia, thank you. Sweet potatoes are great, so versatile. And I think it's also a low GI food. I think I might like living in São Paulo :-)

Kelly M - Your welcome. I think I should eat more sweet potatoes too. I don't know why I don't when it is easily found and cheap.

Paola - Thanks! The addition of oregano would have been a good idea. Unfortunately, my herb garden is not doing too well these last few weeks. ermmm, I don't know if I want to trade places, I've suffered enough ;-)

Katiez - I was lucky that the sweet potatoes I got were very sweet so when I grilled them, they became sweeter, almost caramelised. I usually bake them, but didn't feel like switching on the oven just for that. Grilling season is coming soon to Sydney!!! wooo-hooo!

Susan said...

Colorful, Nora! I've never thought to grill sweet potatoes, but why not? We grill/roast regular whites all the time. Did they have a naturally caramelized flavor and texture after grilling?

Eva said...

That sounds really interesting! Although I've eaten sweet potato now maybe five times (I guess), I'm still not too familiar with it. Now I have one more idea what to do with it!

Nora B. said...

Susan - Yes, the sweet potato did caramelised. I had trouble stopping myself from eating them hot off the grill. It's good on it's own. yumm...

Eva - Sweet potato is commonly used in Singapore. I've only started to buy them in Sydney. I really like the taste and texture.
p/s: what do you think of today's weather??? I am in a skirt and short sleeves t-shirt. :-)

test it comm said...

That salad looks great! I have used sweet potatoes in curry, in stew, and of course as fries, but not in a salad.

Anh said...

Nora, thanks for the birthday wishes! :) Much appreciated!

And this salad is fabulous! I love grilled sweet potatoes. They are sooo good!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The salad looks amazing Nora. I'm with Janet and love sweet potato fries. I haven't tried them in a salad, but, they are good every other way so why not!!!A question? Do you think garlic scapes are the same as the chives???

Nora B. said...

Hi Kevin, thanks for dropping by. I like sweet potato in curries and stews too.

Anh, I hope that you had a wonderful celebration. :-)

Valli, I think they are different plants. They also have a difficerent texture. For e.g. chives are hollow, while garlic scrapes/shoots are solid. I also think that chives has a more onion-like tastes, where as the scrapes tastes more like garlic. What do you think?

Truffle said...

What a stunner! I adore the colours in this. It's a feast for the eyes and I bet the tastebuds too!

Valentina said...

Nora, I love sweetpotatoes. Mum is the one responsible with my love affair with the sweet potato sister. ; o)In Brasil where I grew up we do not find the orange variety. I only came across it in the UK. the variety we have is this one here:
your salad looks gorgeous,beautiful colours. It made my mouth water!!

Wendy said...

"Only in Sydney can one be wearing a winter coat one day and have a BBQ the next" - No, no, in Scotland too! Only difference is you do it in your winter, we do it in our summer!
Gorgeous salad. :)

Cynthia said...

This is so healthy, chuck full of the right kinds of vitamins. Hey, the colours help too :)

Oh for the love of food! said...

Hey Nora, I like sweet potatoes but have never used it in salads before, so your recipe is something fresh and interesting to me. Normally I would have sweet potatoes in desserts !

Anonymous said...

Sweet potato are sometimes called yam in US. Don't know why. Love your salad. Healthy.

Stella said...

Beautiful! Just beautiful & delicious!! It looks absolutely fresh & fantastic Nora:)

Nora B. said...

Truffle - thanks! It was a colourful dish for the perfect sunny weather we had that weekend.

Valentina - Thank you! My mom is also responsible for my love of sweet potatoes. Thanks for the link, but I couldn't open it for some reason.

Wendy - You are absolutely right! I had a good laugh when I read your comment. :-)

Cynthia - Thanks, yes it was healthy and I need to eat more healthy food. The winter bulge is starting to show...

Carol - It's the same for me, my mom only used sweet potatoes in traditional desserts. It was only when I started cooking myself that i started to use it in savoury dishes.

Tigerfish - Yes, sometimes it is referred to as "yam" but it's actually not a "true yam". You can find out more about this confusion on wikipedia.

Valentina - Thanks! I feel like making this salad again.

Aimée said...

Beautiful colors, Nora, and this is such an original idea. ilmtLooks tasty!

Kirsten said...

That is beautiful! Like summer colors on a plate. I wish I could "give" you some of the heat we are experiencing here!!

That sushi class sounds so amazing. Have fun!

Big Boys Oven said...

We love grilled sweet potato as we get them from the market done grilled, such a simple dish, yet the dish itself so soft, creamy and so divine.

Nora B. said...

Thanks, Aimée. I actually didn't have any other vegetables left and the spinach wasn't enough for two, so that's how I ended up using the sweet potatoes.With desperation comes creativity :-)

Kirsten, thanks for the thought of "giving" me some heat. :-) We'll be getting lots soon, and then I will be whining about the heat!

BBO - Yes, the market ones are great. I eat them when I am back in Singapore. But in Sydney, I have to DIY. :-)