When we brought home our share from the CSA this week, one of the sweet potatoes got several deep scratches through the skin so we knew we had to eat it soon. And, of course, there was all that arugula that we received, just begging to be put into huge salads. Combining the two resulted in this salad that we scratched up for lunch, and we figured that our readers have probably never heard of sweet potato “croutons,” hence the post.
Well, to be honest, we’ve never heard of sweet potato croutons, either, at least not until the morning we had them. We were out on our usual morning walk, thinking about how to use that sweet potato. Should we use it to make sweet potato disks — one of our favorite ways of eating sweet potatoes — when we thought of modifying the disks to cubes and calling the croutons. After that, it we had to decide on a vinaigrette; we wanted something sweet/sour, so we went with balsamic vinegar and oil, but we also wanted to play of the hot sweet potatoes and decided to heat the vinaigrette, too. Sound good?
Oh, if you can’t tell, this is a full-up 100% scratchin’ original recipe.
Now, you don’t have to use arugula, but we think the spicy bite of arugula pairs nicely with the sweetness of sweet potato. For the vinaigrette, we used a white balsamic vinegar. It’s more of a sweet/sour vinegar than a wine vinegar. If you use the latter, you might want to add just a bit of sugar or brown sugar — maybe a teaspoon. We put in the chives mainly because we had them available; if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have used them.
Procedure in detail:
Plate arugula. Might as well get started with the easiest part, so put the washed and chopped arugula into salad bowls. You can them pop them into the fridge while you do everything else, but it should only take about 20 minutes, so it’s not strictly necessary.
Make croutons. Place the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. A cast iron skillet is ideal, but any heavy skillet should work. Once the oil is hot, add the cubes of sweet potatoes in a single layer. Let sizzle and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown on the underside, then stir them around to cook another side. Keep cooking and stirring until browned on most sides, about 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t worry if a few spots get black; they still taste good.
Make vinaigrette. Meanwhile, in a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until an emulsion forms. Set it aside until the croutons are done.
Heat vinaigrette. When the croutons are done — tender on the inside — place the vinaigrette in the microwave and heat for 20 to 30 seconds. You don’t necessarily want the vinaigrette to boil; just get it nice and hot. If you don’t have a microwave, make the vinaigrette in a small saucepan. Once hot, give it a quick whisking to make sure it’s emulsified and assemble your salads.
Assemble. Spread the hot sweet potato chunks over the arugula; pour the vinaigrette over the top and serve immediately.
This salad is a nice surprise since it’s both hot and cold, sweet and sour, and a bit spicy from the arugula. We weren’t sure how good it would be, using sweet potato chunks as croutons, but it most definitely worked — we had no problem finishing up our salads in just a few minutes. If you start seeing sweet potato croutons when you go out to eat, you’ll know where they got the idea. Four stars, because it does take a while to fry those croutons.