Sometimes, cooking can be a challenging enterprise, involving a delicate balance of flavors and textures to create the most delectable results. However, I have found that my favorite culinary creations are simply the combination of ingredients I already adore.
Enter these spicy, smoky sweet potato cakes. The official title of this recipe is Sweet Potato Cakes with Cilantro-Avocado Sour Cream and Chipotle Black Bean Salsa. But, let’s be honest: that is just a tad pretentious and takes longer to say that it takes to actually eat these appealing appetizers. So, how about we just call them “scrumptious” and leave it at that?
Creamy mashed sweet potato, mixed with green onions and warm cumin and shaped into little bite-sized cakes reaches golden and crunchy perfection when sautéed in olive oil. A topping of sour cream would be sufficient, but as an appetizer needs to pack a lot of flavor into each morsel, I’ve pureed fresh avocado and cilantro into the sour cream. Oh, y’all, is that concoction tasty. It might just become your favorite dip for grilled meats or chips. Then, I top it all off with a fresh salsa of black beans, red bell pepper, sweet onion and lime juice.
The result is a mouthful, perfect for sharing as a Southwestern alternative to cheese and crackers at your next party. You can also shape your sweet potato cakes larger and enjoy them as a healthy vegetarian supper.
Scrumptious sweet potato cakes
Makes 15 appetizer-sized cakes.
1 large local sweet potato, peeled and cut into one inch pieces
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/4 sweet Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 small avocado
juice of 1 lime
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped (these are found in a small can in the Mexican food section of the grocery store)
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
Bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Cook sweet potato pieces until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and return to hot pan on stove to allow the excess moisture to evaporate. Mash well and add flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cumin, stirring to combine. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat.
Shape 1 tablespoon-sized cakes out of the sweet potato mixture with your hands until round and about 1/2 inch thick. Saute in olive oil in three batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Meanwhile, prepare the black bean salsa. Combine black beans, Vidalia onion, red bell pepper, chipotle pepper and lime juice. Add more chipotle if you would like it more spicy. (Leftover chipotle peppers and adobo sauce can be put in a freezer-safe storage bag and frozen until you need some again.) Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the avocado sour cream by combining avocado, sour cream and cilantro in a food processor or blender until smooth. Top each sweet potato cake with a dollop of the avocado sour cream and then a teaspoonful of the black bean salsa.
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The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.