Guests. The older I get, the more I realise how little it matters what food I serve them – these loaded steam oven sweet potatoes are a case in point.
Don’t get me wrong, serving at least some kind of food is a good idea when you invite someone over, but unlike many people I don’t have concerns about a simple meal being ‘worthy’ of guests (sorry to everyone who, after reading that, no longer wishes to take us up on dinner invites!).
Here’s my argument for keeping things very simple when you have guests for dinner: proper social catch ups over a meal at home are rare and I’d rather spend that time (at my house or someone else’s) actually catching up than thinking too much about the food. Secondly, if we like the food we (ok, I) make every day of the week, no matter how simple, then surely most of our friends and family will enjoy it too. Yes?
It’s in this spirit that today I’m sharing something I think we should all have in our steam oven recipes repertoire for dinner guests (or, heck, just for ourselves!): combi steamed sweet potatoes.
Whether your mealtimes are crazy like ours, or maybe you just don’t want to debone and stuff a quail for dinner tonight, this might be just the thing to serve up next time you have company.
Less a recipe than a list of guidelines, loaded sweet potatoes are something which can be doctored with different toppings to suit young and old. They’re relatively healthy (depending on said toppings) and apart from putting the potatoes in the oven a little earlier, require you to be in the kitchen for all of ten minutes before serving (most of which will just be plating the toppings for people to help themselves at the table).
Cooking whole sweet potatoes using combi steam is faster than in a regular oven. The skins blister and bubble, and the insides steam to a creamy mash consistency which is welcome with all sorts of pantry and freezer staples cast over the top. It’s the kind of meal we should all have up our sleeves.
You’ll see that I’ve used bacon, sweetcorn, black beans and scallions (spring onions) for my sweet potatoes, but I hope you’ll take the basic idea of the roasted potato and run with whatever toppings you like.
Here are a few other topping ideas:
- Add grated cheese. I would have done but didn’t have any in the fridge.
- Use leftover Bolognese sauce, chicken cacciatore, slow roasted/shredded pork or beef, taco fillings or chopped roast chicken.
- Make them completely vegetarian by swapping out the bacon for feta cheese, and maybe adding a dollop of pesto.
- Add freshly chopped chillies or a squirt of sriracha sauce for heat.
- Add roasted cashews, almonds, pine nuts or even crispy fried onions for crunch.
Happy weekend all, and happy (almost) 4th of July to those of you in the USA. I hope you’ll be cooking delicious (and simple!) things in your steam oven to celebrate.
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Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- 4 orange sweet potatoes medium to large sized
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 4 slices bacon chopped, more or less to taste
- 2 cobs fresh sweetcorn kernels sliced off; a cup of frozen corn would work if fresh isn’t in season
- 8 oz canned black beans about half a can, drained, more or less to taste
- 3 scallions spring onions, finely sliced, more or less to taste
- 4 tbs sour cream more or less to taste
- Set your oven to 400⁰F/200⁰C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use around 60%. If not, don't worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will figure out the humidity for you.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes under running water and give each one a couple of pricks with a fork. Put them onto a baking tray and cook for about 45 minutes, or until a small knife can be pushed into the centre without any resistance.
- While the potatoes are cooking, put the bacon and oil in another pan. Mix it around to distribute the oil and spread it out in a single layer. Add it to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy, then tip in the corn and black beans, give it a quick mix and put back in for another 5-6 minutes until everything is hot. If you are using frozen corn, cook it straight from frozen but maybe give it a minute or two longer.
- Put the bacon/corn/beans mix into a bowl, and the spring onions and sour cream into another couple of bowls. When the potatoes are cooked, cut a slice vertically down the middle of each one, push the sides to squeeze open and create a ‘V’ for the toppings, and serve everything at the table for people to help themselves.