It’s been a while. And by a while, I mean nearly six months. Wow. This past semester has been a hectic/emotional/terrifying/beautiful whirlwind, and unfortunately I had to sacrifice blogging time in favor of other matters, such as running. And school.
But now I’m happy to announce that my forced hiatus is over! Whoo!!
While I may not have gotten to post anything in the last six months, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten to cook. So. Over the course of the next week, I’d like to make up for lost time by spamming the site with new recipes (and, of course, all the nerdy science goodness that goes along with them). My goal is one post daily (starting today) for the next seven. I’m thinking of it as a holiday food blogging extravaganza.
Without further ado, here is holiday recipe #1: sweet potatoes stuffed with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and hazelnuts.
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a type of edible tuber native to Central and South America known (oddly enough) for its sweet taste. It is usually light yellow to orange in color, although some varieties grow red, pink, or vivid purple. All are equally delicious.
In certain parts of the American south, this starchy tuber is also known as a yam. The alias, however, has lead to a bit of an identity crisis. You see, the sweet potato shares this title with two other plants: the African yam (Dioscorea rotundata) and the Polynesian yam (Oxalis tuberosa).
As you may have gathered from the Latin, none of these plants is remotely related. In fact, Dioscorea is a monocot (petals in threes, parallel veins, networking roots), while Ipomoea and Oxalis are dicots (petals in 4/5, networking veins, taproots). In short: similar look, similar name, very different plant. Kind of like early 90’s Justin Timberlake’s hair and a package of ramen noodles.
To make matters more confusing, the sweet potato is not only not a yam, it is not, in fact, a potato (I realize that is a lot of not’s. Please forgive me).
Solanum tuberosum (a.k.a. the potato) is also native to South America, but is a member of the nightshade family, a group which includes eggplant, tomatoes, and a variety of poisonous berries. Yes, that’s right: the potato is more closely related to the tomato than the sweet potato.
Because sometimes English sucks at making sense.
Regardless of etymology, here’s a terrific way to enjoy your very own Ipomoea batatas.
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
4 oz goat cheese
4 medium sized sweet potatoes
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, and insert into the hot oven for about an hour, or until tender (oh baby).
2. In the meantime, caramelize the onions over medium-low heat until golden-brown and delicious (about 10 minutes). Add salt and rosemary as desired.
3. Remove potatoes from oven. Once sufficiently cooled, open up and stuff with 1/4 of the onions and 1oz goat cheese each. Sprinkle generously with hazelnuts. Go to town!