Chef Blake Swihart
Chester Springs, Pa.
In this recipe, vegetables pair with fruit—specifically, sweet potatoes with pears—for a colorful vegetarian small plate or side dish. Crystallized ginger and garlic reinforce the sweet-savory flavors of the dish, while goat cheese adds a creamy counterpoint.
24 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup roasted garlic puree
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 ½ qt. soft goat cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 qt. canned pears, drained and diced (reserve juice)
1 to 1 1/2 cups reserved pear juice
1 1/2 cups minced chives
1. Scrub sweet potatoes and poke in several places with fork. Place on sheet pan. Roast potatoes in a 400 F conventional or 350 F convection oven for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from heat and cool almost to room temperature.
2. Cut top third off sweet potatoes, and gently scoop out filling leaving skins intact with a thin layer of potato in skin. Lay hollowed skins, with scooped-side up, on greased sheet pan.
3. In mixer equipped with paddle, combine sweet potato pulp and garlic; mix until smooth. Add butter and ginger and blend. Add goat cheese and reserved pear juice and mix well. Fold in diced pears and restuff mixture into the reserved potato shells or spoon into individual baking dishes. (Mixture can also be transferred into a lightly greased half steam table pan and baked 18 to 20 minutes.)
4. Bake stuffed potatoes or small baking dishes in 400 F conventional oven or 350 F convection oven 12 to 16 minutes or until heated through. To serve, sprinkle with chives.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Service