Sweet and Savory BBQ…Veggies?

When I pulled this recipe from the pile last week, I thought it would reduce the giant bag of sweet potatoes in my basement to a simple side dish.  I had clipped the two recipes from the Chicago Tribune Food section who knows when, and the results from my google search turned up the same recipes dated July 3, 2014, in JeanMarie Brownson’s “Dinner at Home” Column.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/recipes/sc-food-0704-dinner-grilled-veggies-20140705-column.html

Barbecue sweet potato slices

Prep: 15 minutes                     Cook: 20 minutes                    Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
4 to 6 large sweet potatoes (3 to 4 pounds total), peeled if desired
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse (kosher) salt

1. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium heat. Mix chili powder and sugar together in a small dish.

2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into slabs about 1/2 inch thick. Place in a single layer on 1 large or 2 smaller well-oiled baking sheet(s). Turn potatoes to coat with the oil.

3. Sprinkle the potatoes generously on all sides with the chili mixture; sprinkle lightly with salt.

4. Arrange potatoes on the grill in a single uncrowded layer. Cover grill; cook, 10 minutes. Use a pancake flipper to carefully turn potato slices over. Grill the second side until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and edges are slightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition information per serving: 219 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 174 mg sodium, 5 g fiber

I cut my sweet potato planks a little thinner than 1/2 inch.  It snowed here all day yesterday with 50 mph wind gusts, and while next to nothing stuck, I was not about to drag out the grill for these potatoes.  I lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with foil and returned to step 3.  I baked the sweet potatoes at 400° for 20 minutes, turning the pans halfway through the cooking time.

I have to also confess that I was measuring out the spices for the sweet potatoes at the same time I was prepping a chili.  I accidentally threw a 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika into the prep bowl for the potatoes which should have gone in the chili.  I can’t say I really noticed the paprika against the chili powder, or maybe it was such a natural addition that it seemed perfect!

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As a Costco shopper, I recently noticed my 2nd auxiliary pantry is overflowing with chickpeas, and Client does not care for them.  So while I didn’t originally intend to make both of these recipes tonight, the opportunity to open a can of chickpeas for something other than hummus was quite appealing.

Barbecue sweet potatoes with chickpeas and arugula

Prep: 20 minutes            Cook: 5 minutes         Makes: 4 main-course servings

Roasted and salted, smoked or candied pecans make a great substitute for the toasted pecans here. I love to top each portion of this dish with a poached or over-easy egg and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Crumbled goat cheese tastes great in place of the sour cream, too.

¼ cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons smoky barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon each: olive oil, red wine vinegar
½ cup drained canned chickpeas
5 ounces baby arugula or baby kale or 4 cups roughly chopped frisee leaves
Salt, optional
Half recipe cooked BBQ sweet potato slices
A few tablespoons thin sour cream or plain yogurt, optional
Chopped fresh chives or very thinly sliced green onions

1. Place pecans in a small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Cool, then chop roughly.

2. Mix barbecue sauce, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add chickpeas; toss to coat. Arrange greens on a large platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.

3. Cut potato slices into 1-inch chunks. Put into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap vented at one corner. Microwave on high until potatoes are warm, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add warm potatoes and chickpea mixture to salad greens. Toss lightly to coat everything with the dressing. Sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with sour cream if using. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Nutrition information per serving: 304 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 305 mg sodium, 5 g fiber

Instead of the greens listed here, I used spinach (because 5 pound Costco bag).  I skipped the dairy and green onions, and for the red wine vinegar, I used a turned bottle of cabernet (I NEVER let wine go bad, but, well, this one got away).  I had some hard boiled eggs in the fridge which saved me some time, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put a gorgeous poached or fried egg in its place the next time I make this salad.

Verdict:  Labor intensive on the potatoes, but worth it.  Not sure I’d ever go to the trouble of grilling them.  Salad:  100 times, yes!  The barbecue dressing was so odd, and I didn’t love how it tasted on its own.  But on the greens, it was perfect!  Smoky, sweet, and tangy.  I would definitely try goat cheese crumbles to up the wow factor.  Without the egg, the salad would be a great accompaniment to a simple burger night or a fancy steak dinner.  When we start getting bushels of arugula from the CSA come summer I’ll be trying those greens, too, but for now, the spinach will do just fine.

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