The Ultimate Vegetarian Topping for Sweet Potatoes

When there’s something already cooking in the oven, I usually pop two fork-stabbed and foil-wrapped sweet potatoes in to keep it company. Approximately 45 minutes (depending on sweet potato size and circumference) elapse, and presto change-o, you’ve got lunch or dinner for the next day.

If you’re heating up the oven just for the potatoes, try assembling a topping while they bake. I call this recipe the ultimate vegetarian topping, because in my world when you say “ultimate” next to “topping,” it usually indicates bacon and some form of heavy dairy product, maybe even crispy onions.  There is no meat in this topping, and I like to indicate that in the title so that I’m not playing a “horrible, nasty trick” on a certain someone who was “expecting pork sprinkles.”

Anyway, this topping is especially nice because it counters the sweetness of the potatoes, but still has a cheese indulgence.  There is far too much cheese consumption in this house to actually consider it an indulgence, but let’s not quibble over details.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Topping for Sweet Potatoes
(Inspired by a recipe I once read but can’t remember where, plus changes)

1 jalapeño, deseeded and finely minced (or half of the jalapeño, if you prefer less heat)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Bunch of fresh cilantro, rinsed well and chopped
Lime juice (approx. 2 teaspoons, or whatever comes out of half of a lime)
Fresh mozzarella
Two baked sweet potatoes

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and lime juice. Add the jalapeño, garlic, most of the cilantro, and salt to taste.  Whisk together, and then spoon a little bit over the baked sweet potatoes, which  should be split and warm. Shred some of the mozzarella over the top using your hands (I prefer the ovolini size that come packed in water), then spoon over more of the topping and the rest of the chopped cilantro as garnish.

*Notes: I used lemon instead of lime because that’s what I had.  It worked fine, but lime is a bit better. Some chopped spring onions provided a little extra garnish.  This is especially good with a side of steamed mustard greens or kale, black eyes peas, or salad.

Breakfast of (Happily Aging) Champions

Once upon a time, when we went to a concert, we were usually late for the first set, dancing like fools through the second, and roaring with everyone else for an encore after the third. We’d jostle with the clumsy crowd for a cab to head to the next night spot, united in musical camaraderie, ears ringing straight through until Tuesday.

These days, things are a bit different. We don’t always row-hop.  We pick our favorite beer on draft, instead of the cheapest. We wear EARPLUGS.  The dancing like fools part is still de rigueur — this past Friday night several members of a much younger generation gawked at the Mr.’s moves, rather than the other way around. And I don’t expect that part will change until osteoporosis sets in.  But we left before the encore, smug in the wisdom of catching an early cab in the pouring rain instead of fighting the masses for one.  I will admit the smugness wrestled some with embarrassment as we weaved through the rows, because we all know it’s a little lame to leave before the true end.  Especially when it’s just barely 11 p.m.  Especially because the place the cab is taking you to is…your apartment.

Younger me would have scoffed at current me and the changes that have taken place in only a few years.  But current me gets to wake up to the smell of frying bacon and the Mr. wielding a cast iron skillet at the stove.  Younger me probably would have been at the dining hall with a limp and rubbery bacon, egg and cheese, served up with a side of splitting headache.  Both of us would have consumed our breakfast in pajamas though. Some things never change.

Breakfast of Champions
(by the Mr.)

Extra virgin olive oil
2 strips good quality bacon, chopped into small pieces

1/2 of a medium-sized onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 small to medium potatoes, in small dice
Red pepper flakes (hefty pinch)
Salt and pepper
Cilantro (if desired)

Heat cast iron skillet. Add olive oil, and when it is warm, add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Let cook , and add bacon before the garlic starts to brown.  Turn heat to low, and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add onion, a pinch of salt, and continue to cook at low heat until onion is translucent and bacon is crispy.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the contents of the pan to a small bowl, leaving the oils behind.  Add potato, and cook on low heat.  Be patient at this step – let the potato sit without stirring so it forms a good crust.  It will release from the pan when the crust is formed.  Once it has, stir and continue to cook until most of the potato dice sides have a brown edge.

Add the garlic, bacon and onion mixture back into the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Crack three eggs on top and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the eggs.  Continue to cook until the yolks have begun to set, approximately 1.5-2 minutes.

Finish cooking under a preheated broiler until the whites are no longer opaque (approximately 2 minutes).  This should yield slightly runny yolks.

Serve with some hot sauce on the side, and chopped cilantro on top, if desired.  A few more strips of bacon on the side won’t hurt the deliciousness level either.

To make this healthier, don’t eat a lot of crap for the rest of the day, and/or serve with something you made in the juicer. Also, don’t worry about it. It’s Saturday morning.

(Sidenote: The Pretty Lights concert was good, once you overlooked all the kids in bunny ears and tutus, which is easy to do when you’ve crafted a belt for yourself out of reject glow-sticks.  Pretty Lights does a decent, slightly frustrating remix of Pink Floyd’s “Time.”  I guess I am getting older — I kept wanting the record scratches to stop and the actual song to continue, because why remix genius?)