Sweet Potato Egg Rolls With Love

sweet potato egg rolls 1

I remember the very first egg roll I ever had.

I was raised by a single mama who worked and went to school; we didn’t have a lot of splurges.  I was 12 or 13, maybe 14, and my mom dropped me off at the mall.  I don’t remember why–maybe she was doing something at school, and the mall was nearby.  Anyway, I had some time to walk around by myself, window shop.  I got hungry, and I thought I’d just wait until I got home, when it finally occurred to me that I could buy something for myself!  I looked around at my options and an Asian place looked the best to me.  I didn’t have enough babysitting money for a full meal, but I did have .99 cents plus tax for an egg roll.

The egg roll was hot, amazingly crispy and crunchy on the outside, melty and sweet, sour, salty on the inside.  I’d never had anything like it, and instantly loved it!  Mind you, fries, chicken nuggets, and eating out in general were not on our usual list of things to do.  Egg rolls quickly made it to the top of my most wanted list, and I got one every chance I had from then on!  The problem is that every subsequent egg roll wasn’t nearly as good as that first one.  They were dry, stale, had bland filling, or very little filling in ratio to fried wrapper–you name it, egg rolls fell off my list as soon as they went on.

Then I decided to try my hand at them.  I had some leftover sweet potatoes and rice noodles and thought that would make a great base for some additional veggies.  They turned out sweet, fresh, citrusy, and crispy crunchy!  The sweet potato mix did make the wraps soften the longer they sat, so eat them right away, or just reheat them in the oven to crisp them up a bit.

A little flavor…

sweet potato eggroll ingredients

Some veggies…

sweet potato eggroll veggies

Assembly line magic…

sweet potato eggroll assembly line

sweet potato eggroll wrap up

And a spicy soy dipping sauce and coconut cilantro rice on the side…

sweet potato egg rolls 3

sweet potato egg rolls 2


 

SWEET POTATO VEGGIE EGG ROLLS

  • Servings: makes one full pack of large square egg roll wrappers
  • Difficulty: medium-ish
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 baked sweet potato, peeled and mashed
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper, about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas, about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup peeled carrot (peel the carrot stick, then just keep on peeling), about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion, sliced on the diagonal, about 2 inches in length
  • 1 package large square egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste (more if you want more heat)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix the first seven ingredients (the sweet potato through salt and pepper) in a bowl, mix well.
  2. Set up the assembly line:  Bowl of sweet potato mixture, bowl of rice noodles, plate of sliced veggies, egg roll wraps, and beaten egg.
  3. Place a wrapper on the diagonal on the plate.  First scoop 3 teaspoons of sweet potato mixture and place in the center of the wrap.  Layer with 1/4 cup rice noodles and a few slices of each veggie.
  4. Brush the edges of the wrap with the beaten egg.  First fold the bottom triangle over the veggies, then fold the two side triangles and roll.  You may need to seal the final triangle edge with a little more egg wash.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Heat 4 inches of canola oil in a pot to 365F.  Fry each egg roll until golden brown on each side.
  6. Stir together all the dipping ingredients and serve with the egg rolls.

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Coconut Lime Sweet Potato Curry with Forbidden Rice and Pakora Vegetables

Do you have any sweet potatoes hanging out in your pantry that didn’t make it into any buttery-baked-marshmallow-topped-Thanksgiving casseroles?  Have you had enough leftovers and are you in the mood for something slightly…new?  Try mixing coconut, lime, sweet potato, cilantro…are you catching my drift?  You are going to love this rich-and-light-at-the-same-time Coconut Lime Sweet Potato Curry.  Serving it with forbidden (black) rice adds a perfect nuttiness to the dish.  And if you want to add an extra touch, just whip up some Pakora Vegetables on the side.  Seriously.  They’re whip-uppable.

This curry is adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries, a pretty serious Indian Encyclopedia Cookbook. This is an impressive 800+ page book filled with so many amazing curry recipes, as promised, and so, so much more–it’s a great read on Indian culture and cuisine (you read cookbooks like novels, too, right?).  If you want authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors at your fingertips, this book needs to be on your shelf.

Take note–authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors require authentic, deep, complex Indian ingredients.  Iyer also emphasizes the importance of procuring spices whole, when possible.  He devotes an entire section to educating the reader about spice blends and pastes, and how just one spice can offer at least eight different flavors, depending on the preparation used (toasted, ground, soaked, etc.).  I am lucky enough to have an Indian Specialty store within 20 minutes of where I live.  You can find most of the ingredients at local grocery stores, but there is an occasional ingredient that will be “specialty” (like asafetida in this recipe).  You can either omit it, or try and find a similar ingredient you have access to.

For example, asafetida is the ground root of an herb indigenous to India and the surrounding mountainous regions.  On its own, its odor is quite…odorous (to be nice), but when it’s mixed in with a curry or other sauce, it adds a more rounded savoriness, and a fuller flavor to a vegetarian dish (as described to me by my Indian Specialty Store Owner).  I’ve read it delivers a flavor similar to leeks, so you could in theory add some sliced and sautéed leeks to the recipe.  This recipe calls for such a small amount (1/2 teaspoon), that you would probably do better to just omit it.  You won’t miss it with the sweet potatoes, cilantro, coconut, lime…this dish is sort of an Indian-Caribbean Fusion with so much going on!

coconut lime sweet potato curry 2

coconut lime sweet potato curry


COCONUT LIME SWEET POTATO CURRY WITH FORBIDDEN RICE

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium, two pots will be going at the same time!
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Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or 2 teaspoons ground cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded, ribbed, and finely diced (optional, depending on how much heat you want for your curry)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup forbidden rice, prepared according to package instructions

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the forbidden rice according to package directions.  While the rice is cooking, prepare the coconut lime curry.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the cumin, asafetida, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, until you can smell the spices, about 10 seconds.  Add the potatoes and jalapeño, and salt and pepper to taste, until the potatoes are coated with the spices.
  3. Pour coconut milk, shredded coconut, and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are velvety smooth, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lime juice and zest, cilantro leaves, and black beans.  Add 1/2 cup more water if you need to thin out the sauce.
  5. Serve with more chopped cilantro.

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PAKORA VEGETABLES

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, it's batter-dipped and fried veggies--yum!
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Directly from Iyer’s 660 Curries Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons chaat masala, or just salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4-6 cups of varied sliced vegetables (vegetables that work really well are cauliflower and broccoli florets, large slices of sweet onion, large slices of green bell pepper)

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make the batter, mix the two flours, cornstarch, baking soda, chaat masala/salt, cayenne, and turmeric in a medium-size bowl.  Pour in about 1/2 cup warm water, whisking the ingredients together to form a thick better.  Add more warm water, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, to make a smooth, thick batter that coats a spoon.
  2. Pour oil to a depth of 2-3 inches into a pot.  heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-frying thermometer register 350 degrees F.
  3. Prepare a cooling rack with a few sheets of paper towels underneath.  After frying, the vegetable will rest on the cooling rack and won’t get mushy.  Once the oil is ready, drop a few of the vegetables into the batter, completely coating each piece.  Carefully drop the coated vegetables in the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp all over.  Remove them with a slotted spoon or a spider and let them rest on the cooling rack.

 

 

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Sweet Potato Burritos!

I remember when I first ran across this recipe for Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos in the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook–I thought the sweetness from the sweet potatoes would be an odd pairing with cumin, coriander, and cilantro, and the texture would be a little too mushy for my liking.  They were pretty darn great, actually, and the next time I made them, I “beefed” them up with some crunchy veggies and brown rice.  And, of course, I had to turn them into souped up enchilada-style burritos and top them with mango guacamole because I can never get enough fresh lime-tomato-avocado-cilantro goodness.

Another day, another yummy assembly line:

sweet potato enchilada assembly

I know this photo isn’t the best, but it sure tasted great!

sweet potato enchiladas


ENCHILADA-STYLE BLACK BEAN SWEET POTATO BURRITOS

  • Servings: makes 15-20 burritos
  • Difficulty: easy, if you have all the ingredients ready, it's just assembly; medium, if you have to make the rice and bake the sweet potatoes, more time expenditure
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Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups baked sweet potatoes, skins removed and smashed
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4-6 green onion stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (omit if it’s too much heat for you)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups of favorite green chile or tomatillo sauce
  • 15-20 tortillas, flour or corn, depending on preference (corn tortillas are typically smaller and you will be able to make many more burritos)
  • 4-5 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Mix the ingredients through salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. If you are using uncooked flour tortillas, heat up a good stack for filling.  Corn tortillas are much more pliable when heated, so you can prepare them in a warm pan with oil, too.  Flour tortillas will heat up great without any oil, but pour a tablespoon or so of oil in the pan between corn tortillas.
  3. Spray a deep 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and spread 2 cups of green chile or tomatillo sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  4. I use my favorite #40 cookie scooper for even filling distribution: scoop 3 scoops in the flour tortilla, side by side, and if you’re feeling cheesy that night, put a sprinkling of cheese before wrapping and placing in the baking dish.  Continue until your dish is full, usually about 12-15 burritos.  If you can squeeze more burritos in for the party, go for it.  If you’d rather give your burritos some toe room, have two pans (and more sauce) ready to go.  It’s your kitchen, no one’s gonna get offended how you want to do things!
  5. Once the pans are full, pour 2 more cups of sauce over the top of the burritos and sprinkle more cheese over the burritos (optional).  Bake, uncovered, until the edges are crispy and golden, about 20 minutes.

Serving Suggestions: Top with a dollop of sour cream or plain non-fat yogurt, scoop of Mango Guacamole, fresh chopped cilantro; serve with a side of fresh mixed green salad and sliced tomatoes with squeezed lime on top.

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