24 August 2014

Grilled Sweet Potato Rounds with Fresh Mint

A few weeks ago we celebrated my 30th birthday. Yup....the big 3-0 folks. For once the hubs did not permit my nonchalant, "just another day" attitude that was my signature for every 20-something after I could legally get into a bar. He got together a group of friends and planned the perfect shindig - old school steakhouse followed by a tequila bar...the perfect combination of classy and scandalous. It was a night of delicious debauchery, but one that also blew out eating-out budget for the month. It was totally worth it, especially considering the awesome cheap eats that we can do at home to balance that big ticket night out a bit.

Nothing says budget eat like a sweet potato. These cheap bargain-bag tubers are spectacular in so many ways. Sliced and diced they make amazing french fries, and baked and stuffed are a meal all by themselves.  They can go savory or sweet, spicy or creamy, breakfast or dinner...pretty much a champion of the pantry. I <3 these babies (yes, that's an emoticon at 30).

One of our go-to summer potato preparations has always been grilled potato rounds.  We usually nosh them down with the hub's perfectly grilled pork, barbecue ribs, grilled chicken tenders and corn on the cob. But at a very merry barbecue a few weeks ago with friends and mojitos, we discovered an equally merry addition to this versatile side...fresh mint!

I'm not sure if it was Keri or Peter who had the fantastic idea to throw a mint leaf on top of their grilled potatoes, but whoever tried it first deserves a gold star. Red chili flakes and a bit of pepper are a great with these naturally sweet and tender potato rounds, but the contrast of the cooling mint was an absolute delight. Its freshness was a great compliment to the grilled potato, creating a little 30th birthday party in your mouth. And since our community garden keeps churning out mint, we keep eating our potatoes topped with green.

We've tried this several times with different additions and playmates. Goat cheese adds an interesting element, but I thought it detracted a bit too much from the mint and sweet potatoes.  Ricotta was also a nice textural element, but I personally prefer the unadulterated and simple original twosome. I think that mascarpone would be a fabulous pairing, so if anybody gets around to trying that before me, tell me how it turns out!

Grilled Sweet Potato Rounds with Fresh Mint
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 10-12 leaves fresh mint
Wash the sweet potatoes well and cut into rounds about 1/4 inch thick.  Place in a medium bowl and cover with ice and cold water.  Let the potato rounds sit for 20 minutes, then remove to a paper towel and pat dry. Dump the ice water out of the bowl and dry with a towel, then set aside.

Preheat the barbecue or a grill pan to medium-high heat.  While the cooking surface heats, transfer the dried potato rounds back into the bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss the potatoes to coat, then sprinkle with the chili flakes, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Toss again until the spices are evenly distributed.

Brush the preheated grilling grates with a little olive oil, then place the seasoned potato rounds onto the oiled surface. Cook on both sides until the potatoes have well-defined and toasty grill marks (about 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your rounds). "Stick a fork in 'em" to see if they're done - if potatoes are tender, they are ready. Remove from the grill and transfer to a serving plate or board, garnishing with a fresh mint leaf.  Serve hot as an appetizer or side dish with ribs and grilled vegetables. 

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