When a reader asked for sweet potato salad recipes, Joanne Milkereit of Charleston was delighted.
Joanne is a registered dietitian who is dismayed by high-fat, high-sugar, calorie-laden recipes. When she gets a chance to champion a healthy dish or ingredient, she does it with passion.
"I love sweet potatoes and they are so full of nutrition and fiber. So I hate to see recipes that undo all the health benefits with the addition of lots of sugar, butter and/or marshmallows!
"One of our other favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes is just to microwave a large sweet potato for about 10 minutes; cover it for 5 minutes then serve it hot with fresh apple sauce (or stewed apples) and cinnamon."
Well, I have to agree with Joanne about the ubiquitous sweet potato "casserole." I've never understood why it's necessary to bury sweet potatoes in so much sugar when they are naturally, wonderfully sweet by themselves.
Sweet potatoes also are packed with beta carotene, which boosts the immune system. They have more of it than carrots, as well as more vitamin C than tomatoes and more dietary fiber than oatmeal when eaten with the skin. They're a good source of vitamin E, and they are virtually fat-free, unlike many other foods rich in vitamin E.
Here are two of Joanne's favorite recipes:
Sweet Potato Salad With Curry Dressing
Makes 6 servings
3 or 4 medium (or a 23-ounce can) sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1 1/2 cups diagonally sliced celery
1 cup fresh (or canned in juice) pineapple
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fat-free, plain yogurt
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoon grated orange rind
Cut potatoes into large cubes (about 3 cups).
Mix lightly with celery, pineapple, pecans, juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, mix together the four remaining ingredients. Serve with the salad.
Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Peel and thinly slice sweet potatoes. Place in saucepan, cover with water and boil until tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Or add 2 tablespoons water to the potatoes in a microwave-safe dish, cover and steam in a microwave.
Drain and place in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add sugar, spices and 2 tablespoons of the milk and lemon juice. Add more milk if need for desired consistency.
Cheryl Cote of Summerville says this is a great recipe for sweet potato salad. It calls for regular mayonnaise, but use low-fat and perhaps less of it if you want to lighten up the dish, or do a combo of mayo and fat-free, plain yogurt.
Sweet Potato Salad
3 pounds cooked sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups sliced celery
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Few dashes Tabasco sauce
In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors.
The reader seeking the sweet potato salad recipes was particularly interested in spicier versions. I found these two that get good marks online. The first is more suited to a summertime grilling spread; the second one is not as spicy but would make a good dish around holiday time.
Sweet Potato Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing
Makes 6 servings
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes (don't overcook or your salad will be mushy and falling apart.) Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the red bell pepper and scallions to the potatoes and toss with the dressing. Season again with salt and pepper. Serve warm or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Warm Chutney Dressing
4 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped scallions (green and white)
1 cup julienned roasted red pepper
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup mango chutney
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
For the salad: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan, combine the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, cumin and ginger. Stir to combine and bake until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring, until toasted. Transfer the seeds to a plate and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions and red pepper and set aside.
For the dressing: Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients except for the olive oil) in a small saucepan and heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the olive oil.
Assemble salad by gently tossing the roasted potatoes with the red pepper mixture. Add enough of the dressing to coat and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Who's got the recipe?
--Still looking: A reader says she would love to have the recipe for the Eggplant Parmigiana that was served at Portaro's restaurant, which is now out of business. I had no luck reaching the family, so if anyone can get the word to them, we might have a shot.
--We also were trying to track down a recipe for Lemon Chicken Salad with broccoli for a reader who thought it was served at Five Loaves restaurant in Mount Pleasant.
D. Holland e-mailed: "I saw the request for the Lemon Chicken Salad recipe, and though I cannot provide the recipe, I can help with the search. It was not, to my knowledge, on the menu at Five Loaves, which is a relatively recent occupant of that space. It was, however, one of the most popular items on the menu at the (now closed) Eastside Bakery and Cafe, which was in the same space, in the corner, at Crickentree Village in the '90s. I worked at the shop next door in about 1993 or so. I ate that lemon chicken salad as often as I could afford to on my college student budget. It was simply amazing. I can say that it had no mayo and verify that it had broccoli and that the menu stated that it had a lemon vinaigrette. It was sold only as a sandwich, and not by the pound."
One of the former owners of Eastside has responded to this column in the past, so I hope she'll see this and be in touch again.
If you're looking for a recipe or have one to share, reach Teresa Taylor at 937-4886, email@example.com or write The Post and Courier, 134 Columbus St., Charleston, SC 29403. Include a daytime phone number.