Super Bowl Sweet-Potato Party

With the exception of a spectacular halftime show, Super Bowl XLVIII turned out to be a lack luster game, making us all wonder if the Denver Broncos even knew they were at their own football game. Nevertheless, we were in no way going to let that cramp our Supper Bowl style here at TSM…

While loving the joys of typical game day gluttony but dreading the morning-after guilt of game day gorging, I decided to take a gourmet approach to game day fair, and given the list of healthy friends, decided to make a Sweet Potato Party Bar that would satiate everyone no matter his or her eating habits, allergies, or preferences. It is, after all, still the start of the year, and I find that Super Bowl Sunday is usually that day marked infamy on the calendar, when my “healthy new year, new me” plan falls apart. But not this year! And I have to say that I didn’t miss a single wing, rib, or ranch dip, nor did my carnivorous husband call for pizza behind my back…

So I must encourage you to try serving these Sweet Potato Pockets for your next at home affair. And because you can customize the fillings however you see fit, and it is a great way to use left over salads, grains, and spreads you find in your fridge… can we say Hump Day dinner?

Sweet-Potato Party Bar
Serves a small crowd, or a hungry family…

8 medium organic sweet potatoes of similar size, scrubbed (washed if necessary), and dried
3-4 cups corse sea salt, or kosher salt
olive oil
Spiced Black Beans
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed and dried
several springs fresh oregano
taco seasoning or chili con carne seasoning, 1/2 tsp for the beans, the rest for serving
Thai Spiced Chickpeas
1/2 can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed, toss with:
1 small chopped shallot, chopped parsley and cilantro, ground nutmeg, cumin, and a touch of coconut milk

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

1 package orzo, cooked to package directions,
 and left to cool to room temp or refrigerated
1/3 cup chopped mixed olives, pitted
1/3 cup chopped mixed peppers
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
few sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms, quickly sauté
olive oil
salt and pepper

Carrot Cranberry Quinoa
4-5 cups quinoa, cooked a mix of vegetable stock and water
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded carrots
1 small bunch finely chopped parsley
1 small bunch finely chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Lentil Salad
2 cups lentils (can use red or green), cooked in vegetable broth or water, and brought to room temp or refrigerated
salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil
add some of the left over mixed chopped peppers, red onion, and scallions and a good dash of lemon juice
Toppings Bar
1 pint homemade guacomole
1 pint pico de gallo, mild to medium in spice
**(both are best if homemade in a chunky style, or freshly made that day from a gourmet grocer, such as Whole Foods)

2 cups red bean organic corn tortilla chips, finely ground either in a cuisinart, food processor, or a sealed ziplock bag, and ground with a rolling pin (ie the old fashion way)
1 heaping cup finely chopped scallions
1 heaping cup finely chopped chives
2 lemons or limes cut into wedges

Add a serving bowl of creme fraiche or sour cream to the toppings bar and/or a bowl of shredded cheese (obviously making it no longer Vegan or Dairy Free)
Add a bowl of warm turkey chili for meat lovers or to make it a very hearty meal for a cold day/evening

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a baking pan with short sides, pour a bit of olive oil and spread it across the pan. Then cover the entire surface of the pan with the corse sea salt, creating a bed of salt, and place all the sweet potatoes on top, *making sure to pierce each sweet potato several times all around the surface with a fork (this will be easier to do if the potatoes remain at room temp). Cook the sweet potatoes in the oven until soft, which could take anywhere from 35min to an hour depending on size.

2. While the potatoes are roasting prepare the various fillings you choose, as well as the toppings & garnishes and begin setting them out on the table as you want them presented. This is important because as soon as the potatoes are soft and removed from the oven you only want them to sit for 5min before placing them on the bar and slicing them open for people to begin to fill and build their meal.
3. When you have all the salads placed, toppings and garnishes presented, and the potatoes have just been pulled out of the oven, go around and refresh all the salads, the pico de gallo, and the guacamole with a squeeze of fresh lemon and/or lime juice. Give each a quick toss to brighten all the flavors before your guests dig in.

4. Lastly, make a long incision cut into the middle of each sweet potato to create a pocket, length wise, and care fully pinch the ends and push towards the middle of the potato to open the pocket, watch out for the hot steam that will be coming out of the potato.

Serve immediately as you will want guests to begin filling their potatoes while it is hot and steaming to allow all the flavors and toppings to heat up as they sit in the Sweet Potato Pocket. Here’s an example of 2 created on Super Bowl Sunday:

LEFT: Black Beans, Quinoa, Pico de Gallo,, Tortilla Crunch Topping, Chives
RIGHT: Guacamole, Orzo Salad, Taco Seasoning, ChickPeas, Scallions, Lemon Juice

Et Voila! Enjoy your guilt-free gourmet game day!

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