Comfort food: Sweet potato fries with harissa yoghurt
When it comes to sweet potatoes, purple reigns
Sweet potato chips with harissa yogurt
Spring is finally here and our mealtimes are looking a little brighter with new seasons vegetables starting to appear. Fresh greens like kale and herbs are available in huge bunches at the farmers’ markets along with leeks, cabbages and plenty of beetroot.
I love the chioggia and golden beets for bringing that extra bit of colour. The chioggia with its concentric pink and white rings is incredibly popular with children, they seem mesmerised by it’s beautiful pattern and eat it raw, cut into matchsticks without any protest. The regular purple beetroot I need to make more of a fuss with though.
One of my favourite salads is grated raw carrots and beets, of any colour, dressed with plenty of lemon juice, olive oil and finely shredded mint. Add a crunch of sea salt and this salad will sit in the fridge happily for a few days and is perfect for bringing a burst of healthy vegetables to most mealtimes.
Another vegetable that I’ve become quite enamoured with lately is the purple sweet potato. I’ve gotten mine from Beotanics in Kilkenny (beotanics.com), they produce amazing vivid purple sweet potatoes, yacon, oca and even wasabi plants. The purple sweet potatoes are now quite widely available. This incredible tuber is a vivid purple colour and unlike some highly pigmented vegetables, the colour actually intensifies once you cook it. Particularly if you bake or roast it. Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile and are delicious baked, cut into chips or wedges, pureed as a mash or even in desserts.
I made Ottolenghis’ sweet potato gratin with the purple potatoes and it was incredibly dramatic looking, the surrounding cream turned a delicate lilac colour and the slices of potato were caramelised at the edges. Definitely something I’ll make again.
The best way to make sweet potato chips is to simply cut the potato into the desired matchstick or wedge size then lay flat on a a tray lined with baking paper. There is no oil needed. At most when making Sweet Smoked Paprika Chips, I first melt a little ghee then coat the potato cubes in the fat with a generous pinch of paprika or your chosen spice mix. I would have usually used coconut oil but have now discovered the more sustainable locally made ghee, Dollop. They are a tiny Louth-based company that use Irish butter to make the most incredible ghee that is a joy to cook with. It has a high smoke point and a gorgeous nutty flavour.
This week’s recipe is one that I make quite often. The sweet chips are gorgeous with the spicy yogurt and some salads. Or it makes a delicious side to a roast chicken or fish. The nicest live yogurt I’ve found is from Old McDonnell’s Farm in Wicklow (widely available) or the one made in Ballymaloe Cookery School with the Jersey cow milk.
SWEET POTATO CHIPS WITH HARISSA YOGURT: SERVES 4
4 medium sweet potatoes, purple or regular orange
250ml natural yogurt
1 tbsp harissa
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
Juice of ½ lime
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into batons.
Line the sweet potato up in a single layer on two large trays lined with baking parchment.
Bake the chips for 20-25 minutes till crisp and caramelised at the edges. Sprinkle with salt whilst still piping hot.
To make the yogurt simply stir the harissa, lime juice and finely chopped coriander through the yogurt till combined. Serve with the chips right away. The yogurt will keep in the fridge for a few days and is amazing in roast chicken sandwiches.