You guys, this recipe is really good. It’s easily adaptable and comes together rather quickly for how complicated it seems at a glance. It looks kind of fancy in the end, but is relatively painless to serve for company; my favorite kind of dish. Actually, my favorite kind of dish to serve to company is something challenging I’ve never tried before because I lacked the motivation to cook it for just Gilles and myself, so it’s always a gamble if you’re invited to dinner, folks! But I digress.
The variation of the recipe for the potato cakes I’ll present here is a rather highly modified version of a recipe in Nigel Slater’s Tender (vol I). To illustrate, yet again, how bad I am at sticking to recipes, I remembered that I had made this dish for a dinner party and thought that I had followed the recipe 100%. Upon re-reading the recipe, I realized I had followed it about 80%. The good news is, it’s hard to muck it up and easy to have fun with!
I decided to top the cakes with the mung bean salad, because we bought the beans on a whim at the market. Sprouted mung beans might be (understandably) difficult for you to find. It was really nice to have something fresh, tangy, and crunchy on top of these kind of sweet mushy cakes, so I encourage you to find something to top them with. It could be as simple as some dressed green lettuce (chopped rather small) or some other kind of sprout – clover might work nicely.
The mung bean salad is also nice on it’s own.
Sweet Potato Cakes with Kale & Lettuce
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender
Makes about 15 2.5 inch cakes
Sweet potatoes & regular potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), about 2 lbs total*
Kale and lettuce, about 85 g/ 3 oz**
1/4 cup plus 1 tbs flour (or about 5 large spoonfulls)***
Gruyere, about 40g/ 1.5 oz
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 cup cornmeal, to coat cakes
*First, some notes on your choice of potato and greens. I like using sweet potatoes because they’re more nutritious (antioxidants!) than regular potatoes. I used a pretty high sweet- to regular potato ratio. The only downfall of the sweet potatoes is that their flesh is softer after cooking that regular potatoes, so the cakes are a little mushy. This doesn’t bother me. If it bothers you, you have a few options to firm up the cakes: use a higher regular- to sweet-potato ratio, or add more flour. You may also try frying the cakes and then transferring them to the oven to cook a while longer, but I’m not sure this will do the trick.
** I used kale and lettuce because they were in the garden and calling to me. I’m pretty sure the inclusion of lettuce is weird, but it turned out well. You could use just kale, or opt for chard instead.
***If you use only regular (not sweet) potatoes, you can omit the egg and cut down the flour to 3 tbs.
Put it together
Set a large pot of water to boil. Peel the potatoes and chop into large pieces. Rinse the greens and de-stem (but don’t chop) the kale.
Cook the potatoes in the water until soft, about 15-20 minutes. The flesh of the raw Yukon Golds was much softer than the sweet potatoes, so I added the sweets to the pot first to get a head start, and added the Yukons about 5 minutes later. The kale will need to be blanched to soften up enough in the cakes, so add it to the cooking potatoes for about 1-2 minutes, then remove, and run under cold water or place in ice-water to stop the cooking. Squeeze the greens to remove excess water, and then chop. Also chop the lettuce.
When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the water and place in a medium to large bowl. Mash using a fork. Add the egg and incorporate using the fork. Then sprinkle in the flour and incorporate. Add a few cracks of salt and pepper. Add the greens and incorporate. See, this is not so bad, right?
Set up a bowl with the cornmeal and set out a cutting board to place your cakes on. Using your hands, form the dough into cakes, about 2.5 inches. Flour each side of the cake with the corn meal. If you’ve used a lot of sweet potato and the dough is a bit mushy, it will be challenging to coat the cake by dipping it into the bowl of cornmeal. I chose to just hold the cake in my hand, sprinkle over the cornmeal using the other, and then place the cake corn meal-side-down on my cutting board, and sprinkle the other side.
Fry up the cakes in a skillet in some hot olive oil (you don’t have to fully coat the pan in oil) over medium-high heat, cooking for 3-5 minutes per side. You can transfer to a warmed oven to keep them warm while cooking; I just used two skillets and moved rather fast.
Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
Highly adapted from the Food Network
1/2 cup sprouted mung beans
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 sprigs mint
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs whole seed mustard
2 tbs orange juice
sprinkle of red chili powder
Rinse the greens, remove the leaves from the stems (don’t get too worked up over a little cilantro stem left in), and chop. Add the soy sauce, mustard, juice and chili powder to a medium bowl and whisk together. Add the sprouts and greens to the bowl and mix.