As a certified wine specialist, passing the Advanced Level Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) exam, I’m always up for trying new blends and interesting pairings, broadening my experiences and culinary adventures. The first rule in pairing wine with food is simple: texture. Never mind the flavors, types of meat, season, or occasion; you must first think about the weights and feel of your food and beverage. For this reason, full-bodied Chardonnays classically pair with lobster and creamy sauces, medium-bodied Pinot Gris pairs with steamed salmon fillets, and light-bodied Grüner Veltliner with grilled butterflied trout.
After receiving sweet potatoes in my CSA lot for the week, I decided that these intensely flavored and hefty tuberous roots need some strong partners to get the complexity I want for my dish. Apples and winter spices are obvious additions, but I want to up the ante. I researched sweet potatoes to find out more about their health benefits no narrow down my ideas. These starches are very good sources for Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, etc.; moreover, sweet potatoes are proud producers of properties that our bodies register as sleeping aids. Eating this complex carbohydrate signals our body to produce more serotonin, which gives us that sleepy feeling. Sweet potatoes also have tryptophan, which when digested, can help our bodies alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and depression. This essential amino acid is found in other protein-based foods. I thought that out of all the possible protein-based choices, soy sauce would be a challenge. So sweet potatoes, meet soy sauce! One tablespoon of soy sauce already has nearly 10% for your daily value need for tryptophan. This salty-sweet combo is just what I want to see on my plate for dinner!
Dreamy Sweet Potatoes
modified from “Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes.” The I love Whole Foods Market Cookbook. October 2011.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/2 tablespoon butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco, or other hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (do not use a silpat or other non-stick baking mat as the temperature is too high, although I do recommend these for kneading dough or baking at temperatures under 400°F).
- Wash potatoes, leaving on the skins.
- Using a fork, poke holes in the potatoes and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until you can easily insert a knife into a potato, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cut in half lengthwise. Let rest until cool enough to handle, at least 10 minutes.
- Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
- Scoop out the inner flesh of the potato once cool, leaving about a 1/4-inch rim along the potato skin. Add the butter, soy sauce, honey, cream, and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Spoon the sweet potato mixture back into the skins and return to the baking sheet.
- Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tops brown slightly. Serve warm.
These sweet potatoes are slightly spicy, so adjust to your tastes. Dress your potato halves with dried fish or sesame seeds for an added tryptophan kick.
Since I started this blog writing about wine, I feel that I should add a wine pairing. My taste buds sense a creamy and richly flavored forkful of soft fluff when I eat these sweet potatoes. The wine to wash it down should be equally luscious and strong. I recommend a Viognier from Australia or USA as the notes of ginger and tropical fruits will balance out the heat and match the sweetness from the dish, or young Spanish red (from Rioja or Priorat). Bon ap, to sleep!
Photos courtesy of Flickr member: Veganbaking.net; “Black soybeans”