Like a true Lithuanian, potatoes are an integral part of my diet. Those fluffy, soft and creamy spheres of goodness are essential in my country’s culture. We have so many variations of potato dishes, it’s crazy. We boil, fry, chop, mix, mash and bake them – absolutely anything you can imagine. Some dishes are so peculiar that even I avoid trying them. Take for example “potato-filled intestines” (yum) – I still haven’t plucked up the courage to have a single bite. But despite these more avant-garde creations, when it comes to creating potato dishes, Lithuanian cuisine has your back.
I do have a slightly different story when it comes to sweet potatoes. They are still reasonably infrequent in my diet, just because it still feels weird and unnatural to have a sweet veggie for dinner. I do know that sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A however, which helps with vision and builds the immune system, so I really wanted to find a dish to celebrate, elevate and enjoy this amazing ingredient.
This time, I am the fussy eater. I am the person from whom I need to hide the veggies (I know… this is the weirdest sentence ever!), but I am not ashamed to admit it. I have a couple of vegetables that are still quite unpleasant to my palate (i.e. aubergines – who can like them really!? Mush with a thick skin – bleurgh!). But being experimental and playing with spices helps trick my brain into enjoying these unfamiliar ingredients.
The best way to incorporate new ingredients into your diet is by combining them with flavours and recipes you do like. With this in mind, I took inspiration from the humble baked potato and mixed this with Mexican flavours – like paprika, chilli, beans and corn. To be honest, the finished result was even better than I expected – everything worked so well, and it was perfect as a weekday vegetarian meal.
Having said this, don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavour combinations and find your favourite one. You could add roasted chicken, chorizo slices, sausage meat – or just about anything else that takes your fancy. It could be the perfect way to clean out the bits and pieces from your fridge before your weekly grocery shop!
In the meantime, try this Mexican inspired combination and let me know what you think. Try serving it with avocado, guacamole or salsa on the side. Delicious.
2 sweet potatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tin of sweet corn
1 teaspoon of paprika
½ teaspoon of chilli pepper
50g grated cheese
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
200ml olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
- Prepare the potatoes: Wash the potatoes and prick them with a fork. Brush the potatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake the potatoes for 40 minutes or until they are soft.
- Prepare the filling: finely chop the garlic, leek and pepper. Preheat the pan with some olive oil and the chopped vegetables. Lightly fry them for around 2 minutes and add the drained beans and corn. Mix everything together with the spices: paprika and chilli and cook for 5 minutes. Finish by squeezing the juice of one lemon and adding salt and pepper to your liking.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven and let them cool down. Cut them in half and scoop out the insides (leave a thin layer of potato skin to keep the shape).
- Mash the potato flesh with a fork and add it to the filling. Mix everything together.
- Add the filling back into the potato skins, sprinkle some grated cheese on top.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven.
- Prepare the garlic aioli: add the egg, garlic, mustard and the juice of one lemon into a food processor. Start to mix everything and slowly start pouring in the oil gradually until the sauce gets thicker.
- Serve the potatoes with aioli and sprinkle some parsley on top. Bon appetite.