Roast Sweet Potatoes

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

When I was growing up, I never really paid much attention to sweet potatoes or “camote” as they call it in my part of the world.  An occasional “camote-cue” during recess time in school sums up my bond with this root crop – and only if the “banana-cues” (my all-time comfort food) available are all dried up and yucky.  In recent years though, I’ve developed a deep affection for sweet potatoes that, despite its name, is not related to potatoes at all.

A highly nutritious vegetable, it has become a staple in my kitchen.  I particularly like the orange-colored variety as it has a more distinctive sweet flavor and having more beta-carotene than those with lighter colored flesh added to its appeal.  And as with all kinds of sweet potatoes, it is rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C and B6.  How can you not love that?

I’ve always had it as a sweet treat but I recently discovered that its sweetness is a delicious contrast to savory ingredients.  I don’t remember anymore where I came across the idea but my favorite way to make this simple dish is to slice* the sweet potatoes as desired, sprinkle some sea salt, herbs and spices and blend with a bit of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).  Roast until sweet potatoes are somewhat caramelized or tender.  If I’m in the mood for some heat, I add Paprika or a bit of Cayenne Pepper.

In the photo, I added flat leaf parsley, some rosemary and probably even some fresh thyme — giving it a slightly peppery / minty tang.  Either way I give my 2-thumbs up to this tasty side dish that sometimes suffices as a snack or even a quick meal.

Try it too with cumin, coriander and lemon or lime juice; how about your favorite cheese and bacon?  Or just plain salt and pepper… the possibilities are endless.

*  There is no need to peel but make sure it is scrubbed well to get rid of the soil.



July 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m not a fan of unless it’s this Carbonara.

The Carbonara I have known since I was a kid has cream on it and I don’t particularly like cream sauce on my pasta.  So I grew up not really caring for Carbonara.  Not even once did I attempt to order it when I visited Italy some years back.  During one regular potluck dinner, my friend talked about the Carbonara cooked for him by an Italian host on a recent trip to Italy (nope it was not even what he cooked that evening).  What got my attention was the simplicity of the dish that seemed extremely appetizing and best of all it didn’t require cream on it.  So one night I came home pretty tired but awfully hungry, I remembered that Carbonara.  I researched a bit to make sure I made it correctly and this was what I came up with.  It was simple, speedy and so satisfying I made it again the following evening.  It has since become a go to for quick and easy dishes.

What you need:

  • Pasta of your choice
  • Bacon (I used Tyrolean bacon, cut into small pieces but pancetta or regular bacon will suffice)
  • Egg
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • A few cloves of garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Drop the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water.  Cook according to package direction.
  2. Fry the bacon in a little olive oil.
  3. Add the minced garlic, taking care not to burn it.
  4. Using pasta scooper, scoop the pasta straight from the pot without totally draining.  This way a bit of pasta water gets incorporated into the pan.
  5. Cook a bit until bacon and the oil coats the pasta.  Take off from heat.*
  6. In a small bowl, combine the slightly beaten egg with the cheese.  Toss and thoroughly mix this with the pasta.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with more cheese, if desired.

*Make sure when you add the egg mixture, it is away from the heat or the eggs will coagulate.  I suggest waiting a bit before tossing in the egg mixture.  Once I immediately tossed in the eggs, even if there was no direct heat, the eggs still coagulated because the pan was still very hot.  You can also transfer the pasta in a bowl and toss the eggs there.

This can be quite addicting and above all, it takes less than 30 mins to prepare.  Enjoy!

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