Sunday, September 18, 2011

Risotto-Style Sweet Potato, Spicy Pecans, Cranberries and Braised Leeks

Preparing different starchy vegetables in the same way you would with arborio rice for risotto is something I love doing. Awhile back I made Porcini Potato Risotto and it ended up being one of my favorite dishes. Trying this with sweet potato was a natural step and tasted great.

Crunchy, cayenne-spiced pecans and dried cranberries tossed with tender sweet potato prepared in the style of risotto so all of the natural starches come out and create a creamy-tender dish. Braised leeks serve as an unusual but flavorful side.

Risotto-Style Sweet Potato with Spicy Pecans and Cranberries
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled, very small dice
pinch of each-cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup warm vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 sage leaves, chiffonade

Saute the shallots in olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until caramelized, 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and toast 2 minutes more. Add the sweet potato, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the sweet potato. Repeat with another 1/2 cup broth. After you add the last 1/2 cup of broth, add the cranberries. Once the broth has evaporated and the sweet potato is tender, stir in the fresh sage leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spicy Pecans
1 tbl canola oil
1 cup raw pecans
2 tbl organic cane sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper

In a small saute pan, toss the pecans with oil, sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper. Toast over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the nuts are toasted and caramelized.

Braised Leeks
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
2 tbl red wine
salt and pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Heat olive oil in a saute pan and place the leeks, cut side down. Sear until golden brown, 7 minutes. Gently turn over each leek and season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with red wine and cook until it has evaporated. Add the vegetable broth, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until the leeks are soft and the vegetable broth has evaporated.

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