May it Please the Palate-- Tomatillos, sweet potatoes, and other delights

I recently posted a recipe featuring a tomatillo salsa, and began to get intrigued by this fruit. If you haven't used them yet, they're kind of fun to play with. They look like small green tomatoes covered by crinkly leaves. When you peel away this husk, the fruit is slightly sticky from a natural sap, which is easily washed off. The tomatillo tastes to me like a cross between a tart, sour plum and a green tomato. It is a staple of Latin cooking, used in sauces and salsas. You can buy these bottled, but I urge you to try making it homemade for the bright flavor combinations.

Now on to sweet potatoes. While I love these root vegetables, I have never found the right complementary flavors. In recipes, you'll get everything from hot sauce to marshmallows with honey. But something about the tomatillo, straddling that netherworld between fruit and vegetable, seems like a perfect match with the orange 'tater.

However, I am no genius. This is such a prevalent combination that even Campbell has a Sweet Potato and Tomatillo soup. Nonetheless, I enjoy the harmony between these flavors, and have recently made two dishes featuring this duo. One was a sweet potato breakfast hash with sausage, spinach, onions, and tomatillo salsa, topped with a fried egg. The other was a dinner of sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with a tomatillo guacamole filling, topped with an unusual red sauce I made up on the fly, combining Greek and Mexican flavors. Sweet potato hash recipe follows; enchiladas next week.

As always with Roumel's recipes, feel free to tinker and adapt them to your tastes.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

{serves 2}

First make a tomatillo salsa, or use a bottled salsa verde in a pinch.

1 sweet potato, diced in half-inch chunks

1/2 small onion, diced fine

2-4 oz. spicy sausage or chorizo (veg sub - black beans)

2 oz. tomatillo salsa

1 large handful spinach or kale, chopped

Frank's Red Hot

1/2 TBS cumin

salt and pepper and/or combo Latin spices

1 avocado, diced

2 eggs

2 corn tortillas (or more)

1. Brush tortillas with oil or butter and warm tortillas in 300° oven.

2. Heat oil in skillet above medium. Brown sweet potato cubes.

3. Add onion, sausage or beans. When browned and/or heated through, add spices, salsa and chopped greens. When greens are just wilted, toss in diced avocado. Keep warm.

4. Fry eggs and arrange tortilla on each plate; topped with hash and a fried egg.

Now I trust you'll have this on the table before the rest of the family awakens! Part II next week, sweet potato and tomatillo enchiladas ...

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

Published: Mon, Mar 18, 2013

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