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I feel overwhelmed by all the food choices available. What would you like to eat tonight? A little bit of everything, I answer! Food is so delicious. So how do we narrow our myriad of choices available in the supermarket and create a perfect meal? I have two answers:

1. Eat out of the refrigerator. Take leftovers and create something new. Folding leftovers into an omelet or souffle is the easiest way to create a new dish.

2. Eat what’s fresh. Fresh is an overused word, because I have discovered that some foods are at their peak of taste months after harvest or production. For example, cultured butter is best after 3 months of aging and dry-aged beef is best after 3-4 weeks of aging.

To my great surprise, our home-grown sweet potatoes were terrible when freshly dug last fall. They tasted starchy and bland. However, they are delicious right now, after sitting in my basement for six months. I know that sweet potatoes are not considered a “spring vegetable,” but they are so satisfying right now in May because the natural sugars have developed. Although certain food combinations are ingrained in our heads (sweet potatoes with turkey for Thanksgiving), they may not be the best produce in your garden at that time. After all, peas and carrots never ripen at the same time.

Right now, my arugula is sprouted and beautiful. Nothing else in the garden is ready to eat. I suggest the following dish as the best use of “fresh” ingredients:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Baby Arugula

  • 2 sweet potatoes (dug last fall and kept in a 70-degree basement)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil as needed
  • fresh arugula
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 1 onion, sliced

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut up. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees until crisp and tender, depending on size. (If the potatoes are 1/2-inch in diameter, the cooking time is 10 minutes; but if they are 2 inches, the cooking time is 20 minutes.)

Place the onion and a little olive oil in a fry pan, cover, and cook on medium for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook until browned, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, add grated ginger and maple syrup to taste. Or, if desired, add balsamic vinegar or saba vinegar to taste (no more that one tablespoon). Toss with the sweet potatoes.

Top the arugula with bacon and sweet potatoes. If desired, add a little more olive oil to the arugula (if the arugula is tender, none is needed, but if it is fully grown, add some oil).

My arugula leaves are one inch long right now, so I left them on their tender stems for the salad. By next week, I will probably cut off the stems.

2 Comments for “What to Have for Dinner: Sweet Potato-Arugula Salad Recipe”  

  1. Alanna

    Perhaps one can make special requests for ‘aged’ sweet potatoes? :-) This is fascinating.

    PS What is saba vinegar?

  2. Anne

    All of the commercially-produced sweet potatoes sold have already been ripened in a warm spot, usually about 90 degrees for a couple of weeks.
    Saba is a product of Modena, Italy (same place that originated balsamic vinegar), and is made from grape must (unfermented juice) so it is not technically vinegar. I use saba like a vinegar in salad dressings (its low-acidity makes it wine-friendly) and as a finishing sauce (saba is similar to a reduced balsamic vinegar only more flavorful). A little goes a long way.
    Kitchen Conservatory sells a 500-ml bottle of Saba for $36.95.