Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon and Apples

Warning: This is probably the most disjointed blog post ever.

My sister and her fiance are spending Easter weekend with us and I have been trying to assemble the menu based around all of our tastes and preferences. I thought I had everything planned out, right down to a fantastic strawberry-rhubarb cobbler for dessert, when my sister dropped a bombshell on me: "Eww. Monica, I hate strawberries."

Who in heaven's name hates strawberries?

This revelation blew my mind - how did I not know that Catherine can't stand strawberries? Her aversion is especially perplexing when juxtaposed with the tastes of one of our other sisters, Sophie, who went through a 6-year-long strawberry obsession. Everything she ate had to be strawberry-themed. It didn't matter if it was artificially flavored or not (she was famous for sneaking boxes of the strawberry Frosted Mini-Wheats into the cart while grocery shopping with the parents). She doodled strawberries during class, she dreamed of strawberries, and I think her email address was something along the lines of "StrawberryLuverXOXO."

Sophie dreaming about lying among strawberry fields. Forever.

Bottom line is that I believe Sophie's fanatical love of strawberries to be slightly more normal than Catherine's full out hatred of them. What is it that she does not like? Is it the juicy deliciousness? The pure, unadulterated sweet flavor? The antioxidants that lower risk of heart and neurological disease? What is it Catherine?!?

The strawberry hater is on the left. The baby and myself happen to be strawberry lovers.

No worries, the strawberries have been banished from our Easter menu. But I refuse to make "leg of lamb" per Catherine's request. I have an aversion to eating anything that was once fluffy.

Our Easter dinner menu will be as follows:

Pork Rib Roast with Port-Wine Cherry Sauce
French-Style Potato Salad with Herbs
Spinach Salad with Grapes, Pears, Pistachios, and Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrettte
Cream Biscuits
Carrot Cake Cheesecake for dessert
Ice Cream (Paul/Matthew insist upon it!)

You're welcome, Catherine.


Since ham is traditionally served as part of the Easter feast, I'm sure that potato salad will be a featured side on more than one dinner table come Sunday. This recipe shakes things up a bit by employing sweet potatoes tossed in a light mustard vinaigrette instead of the traditional mayonnaise-laden version featuring russets, baby red, or Yukon gold potatoes. The sweet potatoes are roasted until just tender and then tossed while still warm in a hot mustard-vinegar mixture. After allowing those flavors to meld and absorb, the salad is rounded out with the addition of chopped bacon, diced sweet apples, and olive oil. Eat it as is as a side dish to complement ham, pork roast, or turkey or serve it over a bed of baby spinach (tossed with a little extra vinaigrette from the potato salad) as a spectacular main dish. This has been my lunch every day this week and I have not tired of it! It's so fresh, healthy, and filling!

I did not add them this time, but I'm thinking some chopped, toasted pecans or dried cranberries would be a welcome addition to this salad.

Our entire family enjoyed this dish and I'm sure you will too! While nothing can take the place of my Mom's potato salad recipe (especially alongside her honey-glazed ham), this is a great, healthy, and different version. Paul and Matthew were happy there was bacon, Emma loves her sweet potatoes, and I am just thankful to see them all eating something relatively healthy without complaint.

Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon and Apples
adapted from Cook's Country

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
5 slices of bacon, chopped
2 sweet apples (like Braeburn, Jonagold, or Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the sweet potatoes with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 12-15 minutes, or just until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork.Keep an eye on them and be sure not to roast them too long or the salad will be mushy. Remove from the oven and carefully place the potatoes in a large bowl.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a bowl with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide in half and microwave half of the vinegar mixture on high for about 30 seconds, or until piping hot. Immediately drizzle over the warm potatoes and gently fold everything together with a rubber spatula. Let stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, toss the apple pieces with the lemon juice in a small bowl.

Cook the bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

With the remaining vinegar mixture, slowly add in 3 tablespoons of olive oil  as you whisk. Continue whisking until emulsified. Add the apple, diced onion, and bacon to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving. The salad can be made up to 2 days in advance.


1 comment:

  1. Maybe the reason I hate strawberries is because our dear sister Sophie loved them so much she made me sick of them!!