We’ve hit that time of year when I get really excited about produce! Yep, I’m that big of a dork. While everyone else is gearing up for warm weather and outdoor activities, I’m stuck on spring and summer food. And why shouldn’t I be? As a long-time vegetarian and home cook, I rely on fruits and veggies to make my meals healthy and delicious.
While there is something to be said for winter comfort food, by late April I’m pretty much over it. I’m ready to hit the farmer’s market and make some impulse buys, and when I get home, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’ll scramble around a bit in an effort to figure out what to do with them.
That’s where Good Veg by Alice Hart comes in. This book is a post farmer’s market dream come true. The recipes cover all courses, and are influenced by cuisines all over the world, but what they have in common is that veggies take center stage.
The first recipe I tried from the book was the sweet potato cakes with lime and avocado. I’m always on the lookout for delicious savory breakfasts, and this sounded right up my alley. I’d actually tried developing a similar recipe on my own a while back and failed, so I was excited to see how these worked out. Perfect!
Next on my list to try are the Thai-style tofu salad, smoky carrot and millet burgers, and blackened baby eggplant with summer herbs. (Told you this one was all about the produce!)
- 3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and coarsely grated (about 4 cups/600 g)
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1- inch 2.5 cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
- 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 red chiles 1 finely chopped and 1 finely sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Large handful of cilantro leaves roughly chopped
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons 90 ml olive oil or coconut butter, melted
- 2 ripe avocados halved and pitted
- 2 limes 1 juiced and 1 quartered
- Using a colander held under a cool tap, rinse the grated sweet potatoes until the water runs mostly clear. Squeeze the rinsed gratings in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water, then transfer them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, rice flour, cornstarch, the chopped chile, salt and pepper to taste, about 1 tablespoon of the cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the oil, and mix everything well.
- Divide the remaining oil between 1 1/2 × 6-inch (4 × 15 cm) cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pans—or a 9-inch (23 cm) pan to make a large cake—and place over high heat. Add one quarter of the potato mixture to each pan, or all of it to the large pan (it should sizzle loudly) and flatten firmly with a spatula. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Cook each cake for 3 to 5 minutes (perhaps slightly longer for the larger version), then run a palette knife or spatula around the edge, transfer each cake out on to a flat plate, then slide back into its pan the other way up. (Don’t attempt to flip these unless you’re a black belt.) Return to the heat for about 3 minutes more until the underside is nicely browned.
- Scoop the avocados out of their skins with a spoon and mash roughly with a little lime juice, the remaining cilantro, sliced chile and seasoning to taste. Serve each hot sweet potato cake with the avocado mixture spooned on top and lime quarters to squeeze over.