Although sweet potatoes are a tropical crop they are popular in Sweden, especially when new potatoes are not in season. They can be cooked and served as a vegetable rather like jacket potatoes, but Swedes tend to prefer to incorporate them into a salad, which is served slightly warm or cold.
There are two suggested recipes below, but both can be tweaked to suit available ingredients and your own preferences. Essentially both use roasted sweet potatoes, crumbled feta cheese, some cooked grains (or rice, quinoa or lentils) and some chilli or tarragon for additional flavour. Sometimes I had some roasted hazelnuts or pistachio nuts for a bit more crunch.
Serves: 12 for a buffet
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes (plus cooking time)
Sweet potato is a popular ingredient in modern Swedish salads
– The quantity below should be sufficient for about 12 people as part of a buffet, but with some nice bread it would make lunch for 4 people.
– The sweet potatoes are normally roasted with their skins on, but sometimes I peel them as they look more attractive!
– Don't overcook the sweet potatoes; they should have little bite and should not be mushy.
– The recipe works equally well with cooked rye or spelt grains, Puy (black) lentils, quinoa, red and wild rice or a mixture. (Rye or spelt grains can be bought at good health food shops or online. They need soaking overnight and then cooking according to the instructions on the packet.)
– Look out for packets of ready-cooked grains, quinoa and/or rice mixtures in your local supermarket.
Sweet potato salad with feta, grains and chilli
This version has some baby spinach leaves for a bit more colour and some freshly chopped red chilli, which makes it spicy without being too hot. The photo shows a mixture of spelt grains, quinoa, red rice and wild rice.
200 g (7 oz) grains, quinoa, lentils, rice or a mixture
3-4 large sweet potatoes
2+ tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 g (2 cups) baby spinach leaves, washed
1+ red chilli, chopped
2-3 tbsp roasted pistachio nuts
200 g (7 oz) feta cheese
1. Cook the grains, quinoa, lentils or rice according to the instructions on the packet and leave to cool. (The grains may need soaking overnight before cooking.)
2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas 4, fan 160ºC).
3. Wash the sweet potato, peel if desired, and cut into bite sized pieces. Toss in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked. Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
3. Add the cooked grains (or rice, quinoa and/or lentils), cooked sweet potato, baby spinach, about half of the red chilli and half of the pistachio nuts to a serving bowl. Crumble over most of the feta.
4. Gently toss the mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt and pepper, olive oil, chilli and some balsamic vinegar as desired.
5. Garnish with the remaining chilli, pistachio nuts and feta. Drizzle over a little balsamic. Serve immediately or when cold.
Sweet potato salad with feta, grains and tarragon
This version uses chopped tarragon leaves for a nice aniseed-like flavour and is garnished with spring onions (scallions). In the version in the photograph above cooked rye grains have been used and the sweet potato has been peeled, which I think helps to make the salad look a little more appetizing. (The salad also works well with roasted hazelnuts instead of spring onions.)
50 g (2 cups) baby spinach leaves, washed (optional)
1+ tbsp freshly chopped tarragon leaves
6 spring onions (scallions)
4. Wash the spring onions (scallions), remove any damaged outer layers and cut into 2 cm (1") long pieces.
5. Add the cooked grains (or rice, quinoa and/or lentils), cooked sweet potato, baby spinach (optional), about half of the chopped tarragon and half of the spring onions (scallions) to a serving bowl. Crumble over most of the feta.
6. Gently toss the mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt and pepper, olive oil, tarragon and some balsamic vinegar as desired.
7. Garnish with the remaining tarragon, spring onions (scallions) and feta. Drizzle over a little balsamic. Serve immediately or when cold.
Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.