Shortly after receiving the disheartening letter from our pal Sweet Potato, I received an enlightening email from my aunt’s long-time vegetarian friend, Meg, who passed along one of her favorite recipes: sweet potato quesadillas. The timing, just a day before I picked up my first winter CSA share, which included many pounds of sweet potatoes, couldn’t have been better.
Friends, these quesadillas have become one of my favorite things to eat. The filling, a mix of sautéed onions, grated sweet potatoes and spices (cumin, oregano, cayenne, and chili powder), comes together quickly with the help of a food processor’s shredder attachment and keeps well in the fridge, making for quick preparation at the dinner hour. Most often I make quesadillas with the filling, though I have discovered it makes a fantastic breakfast taco: scramble some eggs, fry up the filling, tuck it all inside a warm tortilla with cheese and hot sauce. Heaven. Thank you, Meg!
These quesadillas aren’t typical party fare, though I wouldn’t be upset to see them passed aside the bubbly tomorrow. Happy Happy New Year, Everyone.
You can peel the sweet potatoes if you wish, or just give them a good scrub:
Extra grated sweet potatoes can be stored in the fridge in a bag for about a week without any discoloration:
I’ve mentioned these soft corn tortillas before. I love them:
watermelon radish salsa:
If I have cilantro, I like to add a chopped handful to the sweet potatoes when they finish cooking.
You do not have to serve these with salsa. Fresh lime and sour cream are more than enough, though salsa is always nice. If you have any watermelon radishes in your vegetable bin, you can turn them into a salsa by finely dicing them and mixing them with finely diced onion, jalapeno, lime, cilantro, salt, and a splash of olive oil and vinegar.
Finally, I think the key here is "less is more" — a thin layer of the sweet potato filling is best.
- 1½ cups finely chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 to 4 tablespoons neutral oil such as olive, grapeseed or canola
- 4 cups grated peeled sweet potato
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- generous pinch of cayenne
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- fresh lime juice to taste
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack
- 8 tortillas (8 to 10 inch — I like soft corn tortillas, which I find at Whole Foods)
- sour cream for serving
- In a large pan set over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons of the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the grated sweet potatoes, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and cook, covered — covering is important to prevent sticking — for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. When the sweet potato is tender, add salt and pepper to taste and remove the filling from the heat. Squeeze ½ a lime over the sweet potatoes, mix, taste, and adjust with more lime and salt to taste.
- To bake the quesadillas, do as follows: Spread one-eighth of the filling and 2 tablespoons of the cheese on each tortilla. Bake in a 350ºF oven until the cheese is fully melted and quesadillas are hot, approximately 15 minutes.
- To cook the quesadillas stovetop, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Fill tortillas lightly — less is more — with sweet potato filling and some cheese. Fold them in half. Cook two at a time until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip. Cook until golden, about 2 more minutes. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, filling, adding more oil as needed.
- Serve with more fresh lime, sour cream, and salsa if you have it.