Most of us end up enjoying the sauce more than the food, even if we ask for it on the side because we
know we are weak are health-minded. And that’s okay with me because people are more adventurous with their sauces than the rest of their plates. You might go for an odd-sounding salad dressing, sauce, or spread so long as it is served on an old standby (cases in point include steak with horseradish sauce or any one of the hundreds of eponymous sauces at fast food restaurants atop standard burgers – seriously, you just trust the (namesake) “signature sauce”?!). The introduction of new flavors via sauce is another one of my foodie-guerrilla tactics to used in my crusade to expand the cultural taste bud.
Why is this my mission? Because I would be so very sad if I knew someone who avoided cilantro (dear, dear cilantro) because of its appearance. I have found that once you actually sneak a novel flavor into a dressing or sauce, the food that you are serving said sauciness with inevitably becomes a foil for having as much sauce as possible.
This recipe takes a baked sweet potato. Adds roasted chicken. Bakes again. And then, just as you’re about to be pretty okay with serving a meal that won’t be fussed about or picked at, well, I just went ahead and added a ridiculously smooth, fresh-tasting Thai-inspired sauce that completely changes the flavor dynamic. I want to serve this sauce with everything. Grilled zucchini + this sauce is next.
Although I enjoyed my dinner as a standard sweet potato (topped with avocado, like everything should be), BF wanted made his made into a soft taco. I just cut up the potato and mashed it down with a fork before adding it to a warmed taco shell (and adding extra sauce, per his request), which looked kinda genius, but I’m not here to give him kudos for his kitchen innovation – I mean that’s my thing – so consider me officially unimpressed (but unofficially: delicious alternative if you have someone who needs dinner in the form of a sandwich).
You will need:
- 3 sweet potatoes, washed clean and pricked with a fork
- 1/2 cup pepitas, toasted (pumpkin seeds – inexpensive and easy to find at normal grocery stores)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 fresh limes
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
- 15 ounce can of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon chili sauce (I used Sriracha)
- 1 tsp. each salt, pepper, and ground ginger (alas, I was out of fresh, but I think it would be even better this way!)
- appx. 2 cups roasted chicken
- 1 avocado, to serve
- Soft tortillas, if desired
Before I go into the recipe, this one really is an easy after-work dinner that requires no planning at all. You don’t need to chop anything before work. Just come home, and follow the instructions, and you’ll even have time to change into
your favorite sweats whatever normal people wear after work while the potatoes bake.
- Preheat the oven to 375 and add the potatoes. They bake for 45 minutes or so (depending on size), so go on and get comfortable for a good twenty minutes before you even consider starting on step two.
- Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice out, picking out seeds as they come. Zest the limes into the same bowl as the juice.
- Add the juice to your food processor or blender. Add the pepitas, cilantro, garlic, basil, onion, coconut milk, chili sauce, and spices as well. Blend or process until smooth. It will turn a nice green color. Taste a bit (because it’s awesome) to adjust the seasonings to your preference (note: if you’re a spice-fiend, I think a Thai bird chile or other very hot pepper would do well in this dish):
- Chop the roasted chicken into small bite-sized pieces.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven (after they are done) and cut slits down the center. In an oven-safe dish, first pour in about 1/4 cup of the coconut-cilantro sauce, then add equal portions of the chicken to each sweet potato and top with an additional 1/4 cup of the sauce.
- Transfer back to the oven for about 10 minutes, to let everything heat up together so that it comes out looking this delightful:
- Meanwhile, dice the avocado (if you will be using it) and toast the tortillas gently on your stovetop (if desired).
- If you are having your dinner as a baked potato, you are done. I ate mine in a bowl so I could have as much sauce as I wanted, thank-you-very-much. If you’re going to have a taco, then mash gently with a fork until it is spread-able and add to your taco shell. Both methods are divine topped with avocado, in my opinion.
And finally, once you have put together your plate, I want to let you know that you may need to use the Nancy Reagan merger defense and “just say no” to any formal requests (sitting so properly, even with Mops’ snaggle-tooth) for bids you may receive on your dinner.
One month in and I’m already pulling out the law jokes. Yeesh.