Saturday, February 1, 2014

thai-peanut-baked-sweet-potato-mash: or quick-fire dinners.

As I've mentioned before, I love the throw-together dinners.  They're way better than the ones that I plan for days and make special grocery runs for.  My best creations are usually conceived on nights when a grocery run has been overlooked and I need to make dinner with leftover ingredients from planned-dinners and whatever I can find hidden in cupboards and the far reaches of the fridge.  Again, for someone basically spontaneous-less in life, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants in the kitchen always seems to work out beautifully.

And sometimes, when throwing together a dinner, you get an absolutely fabulous idea in your head, but then you try to execute it and you mess something up in the middle and you have to be at work in a half hour, so you have to completely abandon your original idea and come up with an alternative on the spot.  It's like a Top Chef quickfire except you've got ten minutes instead of a half hour and if you fail you don't get dinner. And sometimes, those quickfire dinners are dishes that you would have never created otherwise, and which are way better than the seemingly "absolutely fabulous" idea you started out with.

And so, I present to you, my latest quickfire dinner: Thai-peanut-baked-sweet-potato-mash (I'll come up with a better name at some point...)  I mean, you could have it as a side-dish, but it's way better as your whole dinner. Slice some avocado on top and drink a glass of a big Cab, and bam!  That's your dinner right there, baby.

makes four very generous servings

3 large sweet potatoes
2 heaping tbs peanut butter (I used Earth Balance creamy coconut-peanut butter)
3 scallions, chopped (plus a little extra for garnish)
1 small red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh grated ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbs Thai chili sauce
red pepper flakes

+ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
+ Using a fork or pairing knife, poke the potatoes all over (take out all your angst/anger/frustration from the day/week/year on those potatoes, it's cathartic and will help the potatoes cook faster). Wrap each potato in tin foil individually and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for an hour or until the potatoes are tender.
+ While the potatoes are cooking, combine peanut butter, scallions, onions, garlic, ginger, soy, and chili sauce in a large bowl.  Give it a quick mix, just to combine.
+ When the potatoes are finished cooking, allow them to cool for a few minutes, just until you're able to handle them without burning your fingers.  Cut each potato in half, then remove the skins (they should peel off very easily, but if they're a little tougher, use a spoon to scrape them off).  Then cut the halves into big chunks and add to the bowl with the peanut mixture.
+ Combine the potatoes with the peanut mixture using a potato masher until gently mashed and well combined (I liked leaving some nice bite-sized chunks of potato, but you can make it as mashed or un-mashed as you'd like).  Add the sriracha to taste.
+ Transfer potatoes to a medium baking dish.  Put under the broiler until the peaks of the potatoes begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
+ Serve warm right from the oven, garnished with scallions and red pepper flakes for added heat.