Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mexican Sweet Potato and Beef Salad (and Quesadilla)

Many years ago, before my second career as a chef started, I was helping to direct a photo shoot for my employer. The photo studio was in downtown Seattle and as it was an all day photo shoot, the studio decided to bring in lunch for us.

The inspiration for my meal came from that experience years ago. I never found out the name of the restaurant, but I remember eating this sweet potato
quesadilla type thing that blew my mind. So good.

I'm sure that what I made wasn't even close to the original (it was over 10 years ago after all). But it was along the same lines and it was pretty tasty.

For the Sweet Potato and Meat Mixture

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
cayenne pepper (to taste)
2ish tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers)
1 lime, juiced

I started by heating a large pan over high heat. I added my sweet potato with about 1/2 cup water and let it simmer for a while until the sweet potato started to get soft. I added the rest of the ingredients (except for the adobo and lime juice) along with some salt and pepper and cooked it until the beef was nicely browned. I added the adobo and lime juice and checked my seasonings then turned down the heat while I worked on the rest of the ingredients.

For the salad

1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
cheddar cheese
sour cream
cherry tomatoes
chopped chives

On the plates I layered lettuce, some of the sweet potato and beef mixture, corn, cheddar cheese and tomatoes. I topped this with a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of salsa and some chopped chives. I served it with a couple of corn tortillas that I warmed in the toaster oven.

My only complaint was that I should have dressed the greens in just a touch of vinaigrette, or at the very least, squeezed a little more lime juice over the whole thing before serving. But, alas, I only had the one lime. It also may have been better served with a few corn chips instead of the tortillas.

Now, while the salad was pretty good, lunch today was even better. I used the leftover
sweet potato and beef mixture (to which I added a bit of corn) along with some cheddar cheese and corn tortillas to make Quesadillas. I served it with a little green salad and some sour cream and salsa on the side.

Yum. Maybe not mind-blowing good, but definitely one the better lunches I've had in a while.

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