Sweet potatoes could be the mascot of the sustainable foods movement. Packed with nutrition, including more than twice the daily suggested serving of vitamin A, antioxidants, protein, iron, potassium and other hard to get minerals, sweet potatoes provide a huge benefit to calorie ratio.
They taste wonderful, they’re even anti-inflammatory, which can help mitigate inflammation-related diseases like asthma, arthritis, and heart disease. Because they’re root vegetables, they absorb everything (including pesticides and chemical fertilizers) that’s in the soil around them, so it’s important to get organic sweet potatoes so you can eat the nutrient-rich skin. Finally, sweet potatoes come into season right now, in November and December, just when straight-off-the-farm bounty starts to wane. At your farmer’s market, you should be able to find just-dug sweet potatoes. Prepare them by poking a few holes and baking them in the oven or by boiling them, then use the starchy, nutrient-rich water in soup or other recipes. Straight up is the best way to enjoy these excellent roots, since they taste great with nothing at all added, but they drop jaws and fill bellies in this sweet and savory pancake recipe.
These pancakes are the brainchild of my friend Aileah, a farmer in New York’s Hudson Valley. They’re great with sweet, sour chutneys like tamarind or green tomato chutney (recipe tomorrow), or with a savory black-bean spread, which you can make by mashing or processing black beans with garlic, oil and lemon. They’re always a huge hit at my house, accompanied with couscous and the season’s last, spotty peppers roasted with salt and oil in the oven while the potatoes bake.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
One medium-large sweet potato
One cup of flour (I have used spelt or all purpose flour, Aileah uses chickpea flour from her local Indian grocery)
Two tsp cumin
One tsp salt
One tsp paprika
1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro or 2 Tsp dried
Roast or boil the sweet potato. If roasting, pierce the potato and place in 425 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, checking every so often with a fork for softness. If boiling, just boil until soft (20 minutes or so). Roasting will make a drier pancake than boiling, but is slower and uses more energy (unless you make your oven-use efficient by baking a whole bunch of potatoes at once, roasting some veggies for your dinner, etc.)
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or a bowl and process or mash until thoroughly combined.
Heat a pan on the stove and pour in olive or sesame oil to your satisfaction. When the oil is hot, fry your pancakes one tablespoon of batter at a time and stack them on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Pancakes will still be relatively soft and moist when finished. Enjoy!