In our little Up the Mountain village, sweet potatoes are only available to buy in the local shops during late summer and autumn. They even sell them ready roasted as there are still folk who don’t have ovens and do most of their cooking on the stove top. Of course, if we venture down to the coast and the big supermarkets, we can buy sweet potatoes whenever we want, but the choice of variety is still fairly limited to the large orange fleshed, thick skinned varieties.
Time spent in England Down by the Sea brings a world of vegetables to us in a local supermarket whenever we want. I try to buy seasonally, but with vegetables flying in from all over the world it’s sometimes hard to know what is in season and what is not. It’s also tempting to buy things just because you fancy them. This was the case with some very small, thin skinned sweet potatoes I spotted the other day. They were about 25cm long and just a bit thicker than a fat sausage. I was intrigued and couldn’t resist.
Two were simply roasted and utterly delicious but a lot sweeter than the ones we’re used to. I turned to my old pal Ottolenghi for inspiration and his cookbook delivered with a sweet potato gratin which I chopped and changed (adding in regular potatoes with the sweet ones and changing the chopped sage for parsley as I am being over run by the stuff, and using milk instead of cream). Go back to the original ingredients for a really stunning and luxurious dish (I’ve eaten that version too – it’s incredible) or stick with my recipe for a more every day dish.
This is pretty filling and is great as a vegetarian main course or as part of a larger meal as a side dish.
Ingredients (to serve 2 people as a main course)
- 2 small sweet potatoes, thinly sliced but with the skin on
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 tsbp finely chopped parsley
- 2 cloves of peeled garlic, crushed
- A tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- About 120 ml (1/4 cup) of semi skimmed milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Mix together the two types of potato and the parsley, garlic and olive oil.
Layer the slices in an ovenproof dish and season. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes then remove the foil and pour over the milk. Roast for a further 30 minutes and check that the potatoes are cooked by testing them with a sharp knife.
The dish will be bubbling and hot, serve in the baking dish. Tastes great too at room temperature or even cold the next day.