Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Last week, the NY Times published an article “Your Contribution to the California Drought” which displays the water footprint of various foods. Since California exports 50% of its produce nationwide, Super Sous and I have been developing Drought Friendly Recipes as a way for all of us to conserve California water. We are using the same sources as this NY Times article references, the Water Footprint Organization and studies from UC Davis. We are aiming to create recipes that have a lower water footprint relative to others. So, for example, fruit and vegetable centric recipes which stay clear of animal protein (except wild fish) and nuts.

Today’s recipe is an Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia. It’s definitely a weekend project recipe. It’s not a 15 minute meal, but I can guarantee that it is fluffy, light, sweet, and everything you would ever want in a piece of focaccia, especially since it’s slathered with caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs.

Enjoy and save a piece (or two) for us!

 

Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Yields: 1 18×13-inch sheet pan of foccacia

 

1½ pounds white sweet potato

5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups warm water (115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

nonstick spray

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (4 cups)

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped (½ cup)

¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped

 

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place ¼ cup of kosher salt in a pile in the center of a sheet tray and rest the sweet potato on top of the salt mound.

Place sheet tray in the oven and roast sweet potato for 2 hours.

Remove sheet tray from the oven. When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, slice the sweet potato in half and scoop out flesh to fill 1½ packed cups roasted sweet potato. (Enjoy any leftover sweet potato as a delicious snack!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and stir to combine. Let rest for 15 minutes, until mixture gets very foamy.

Add 1½ cups packed (warm, but not hot!) sweet potato, flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl.

Spray the hook attachment with nonstick spray to coat and attach to mixer.

Mix on low for 5 minutes. Check on dough at this point. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. If dough is wet, add additional flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the flour absorbs the excess moisture. Mix for an additional 5 minutes until a smooth ball is formed. (Photo below)

In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer dough ball from stand mixer to the large oiled bowl and roll the doll around to coat the dough evenly with oil.

Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place in your house. Let rest until the dough ball doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While bread is rising, make the onion garlic topping mixture.

Place a medium (3½ quart) sauce pan over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Remove lid and add garlic, chopped herbs and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, until all the water evaporates and the onions start to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Evenly coat the bottom and sides of an 18×13-inch sheet tray with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Lightly dust a work space with some flour. Turn dough out onto workspace. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. (Photo below)

Transfer the rectangular dough into the oiled sheet tray. Using your fingertips, gently spread dough evenly to fill the sheet tray. Let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. (Photo below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evenly sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon salt over the dough.

Spread the onion / garlic / herb mixture evenly over the dough. Dot/ firmly press your fingertips into the entire surface of the dough to create small “potholes” in the dough. (Evenly space the “potholes” throughout the dough, about 1-inch apart from each other.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

foccacia dough ball

Dough ball ready to be oiled and rise 

Foccacia on table

Spreading the dough into a rectangle

Foccacia in sheet tray

Pressing the dough evenly in the sheet tray

cooked foccacia2

Finished foccacia

cooked foccacia

Delicious!

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Not Too Spicy Green Papaya Salad

(Hey! Update to this post – you can watch me make this salad on my YouTube page. Thanks and now back to the blog…)

California drought friendly and delicious, this papaya salad is a refreshing, bright, crunchy, herbaceous and spicy (not too spicy!) dish, perfect for warm weather months.

Super Sous and I traveled to Vietnam in February, our first stop being Hanoi, the capital city in the North. Upon arrival, we immediately arranged a street food tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi (where we were staying). Our wonderful guide, Tam, took us on a whirlwind food extravaganza through the streets, alleys and hidden corridors to eat some of the best food Hanoi has to offer. From classics like Bun Cha to Egg Coffee to Beef Pho we ate A LOT, probably hitting up 7 different street food vendors/restaurants within the 3 hours of wandering.

Our third stop for the night was at a spot that served the best Papaya Salad we have ever had. At first, Super Sous and I were a little nervous about this dish as papaya salads we have eaten in Thai restaurants have been extremely spicy, but this salad was the perfect blend and balance of sweet, sour and spice. It was then that Super Sous and I fell in love with the Vietnamese papaya salad and despite our best efforts to not overeat and pace ourselves that evening, we couldn’t resist finishing off the whole salad.

Tam NL SS

Me, Tam – our street food tour guide – and Super Sous

Upon returning to California, we created our own version which comes pretty close to our experience. A note about the green papaya – you can find these in an Asian grocery store. (Sometimes they even have it pre-shredded in bags – score!) To shred yourself, cut in half, peel the section you want to use and shred using a citrus zester (photo below), a “noodler” (the instrument that makes zucchini noodles) a food processor (with the shredding attachment) or a box grater.

Citrus Zester

Citrus Zester

Now, a note about drought friendly recipes: Super Sous and I started the project of creating drought friendly recipes as a way for all of us around the country to help conserve California’s water. What I love about this recipe is the use of Virginia peanuts. They are so good! (It wouldn’t at all have anything to do with me being a Native Virginian…) Peanuts are a groundnut and therefore do not grow like almonds or walnuts in large orchards that require a lot of watering. Peanuts are a good source of protein and with their low water footprint, are a great alternative to almonds. According to the Water Footprint Organization, it takes 381 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of peanuts, whereas almonds require 6 times that amount. So, yay for peanuts!

green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yields: 2 servings

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, grated on a microplane

½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic, grated on a microplane

2 teaspoons minced lemongrass

¼ Bird’s eye aka Thai chili, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Salad:

2 cups packed shredded green papaya

¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced green beans, sliced on a bias (8 beans)

3 tablespoons whole toasted peanuts

½ cup quartered grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

 

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar dissolves.

Add papaya, carrot and green beans to dressing and massage ingredients together with your hands for approximately 30 seconds, to meld all flavors and allow dressing to permeate papaya.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide onto plates and serve.

Cauliflower “Couscous” Salad with Currants, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs

From start to finish this dish will take you around 10 minutes. Not only is it quick and easy, it’s versatile. Eat it as it’s own dish or use it as a bed for grilled fish, chicken or lamb. Enjoy it for lunch or throw it together for dinner. And did I mention it’s gluten free and vegetarian? (Make it vegan by omitting the cheese.) Fast, simple and delicious. No matter how you slice it, this one is a winner!

Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower “Couscous” Salad with Currants, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

1 small head of cauliflower, approximately 1½ pounds, cored and florets cut into medium-sized pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 small shallot, peeled and diced small (3 tablespoons)

2/3 packed cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

½ packed cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup dried currants

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)

1/3 packed cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Place cauliflower chunks in a food processor. Blend until cauliflower has broken down into couscous sized pieces. You should have approximately 3 cups.

Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat until very hot and almost smoking, approximately 1-2 minutes.

Transfer cauliflower from food processor into the hot sauté pan. Add salt and pepper. Stir.

Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is heated through and lightly cooked, approximately 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer cauliflower to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add shallot, parsley, cilantro, pine nuts and currants. Stir to combine.

Add lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to combine.

Add cheese and stir to combine.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon as needed.

Divide into bowls and serve.

Shirred Egg with Prosciutto

Tired of the same old sunny side up eggs? Try this egg recipe and “wow” your family and friends. Simple and delicious, shirred eggs are easy to make and when you add some prosciutto – it’s a total winner.

Fun fact: You can watch me make this recipe on my Youtube channel!

Shirred Egg with Prosciutto

Shirred Egg with Prosciutto

Yield: 1 serving

 

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 slice of prosciutto di parma, chopped roughly

1 large whole egg

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

½ tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/16 teaspoon Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon heavy cream

 

Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease the bottom and sides of an oven-safe ramekin with olive oil. Place ramekin on a sheet pan.

Place the prosciutto in the ramekin. Crack the egg into the ramekin, whole. Add the salt and pepper, herbs and cheese, then top with the cream.

Place the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes (if using a shallow ramekin) or 11-12 minutes (if using a deeper ramekin) until the egg white is just set but the yolk still runny.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Easy. Delicious. Healthy. Flavorful. Beautiful. An all around winner!

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Yield: 2 servings

 

For Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 small shallot, peeled and diced small, 2 tablespoons

¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

 

For Salad

3 packed cups mixed greens

1 large radish, sliced thinly

 

Gently mix greens and radish with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Divide onto plates and serve.

Harissa Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Herbs

This herbed spicy egg salad sandwich is so good that I am making it for lunch today! For those who may not be familiar with harissa, it’s a hot chili pepper paste. You can find it at Whole Foods, speciality stores and online. In fact, I recently bought some online at Amazon as I didn’t have time to make a Whole Foods run. It’s one of those condiments where a little bit goes a long way. It’s spicy, but what I love about it is that it also has a nice peppery, earthy flavor and can be added to sauces, dips, mayonnaise… it’s quite versatile like that. But first, why not give it a try in this egg salad recipe…?!

 

Harissa Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Herbs

 

 

Harissa Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Herbs

 Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

1 small shallot, peeled and diced small, 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

4 large cornichon, diced small, 2 tablespoons

¾ teaspoon harissa

Zest from ½ lemon

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon finely chopped mint

1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro

3 whole hard boiled eggs, chopped roughly

3 hard boiled eggs –whites only, chopped roughly, yolks reserved for another use

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper

 

Place the shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl and let sit while you prep the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, garlic, cornichon, harissa, lemon zest, cumin, mint, parsley and cilantro. Add the chopped eggs. Mix together. Add the small bowl with shallot, lemon juice and vinegar. Mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and additional lemon juice if needed.

Serve as tea sandwiches or on toasted buns with lettuce and tomato.