Folks like to talk about power in absolute terms–either you have it or you don’t. In grad school, I spent much of my time thinking about power and trying to challenge the notion that power is zero-sum. Not only do we all have the capacity for power, but rather than being absolute, my belief is that power is inherently relative, meaning you can have more or less of it than someone else, but rarely is one all powerful or completely powerless.
Well, despite not being in grad school anymore, I am still fascinated by the ways that we conceptualize power (or not) and the implications of those different framings for our individual lives and for society. This may be why when looking to “veg-out” this afternoon with a documentary, I was immediately drawn to “The Lottery of Birth” on Hulu. It was love at first watch! In short, the documentary is about freedom and the forces that shape and impinge upon our freedoms, and I would highly recommend it. Almost as much as I would recommend these sweet potatoes (I know, I know… you came here for the food!)!
These mashed sweet potatoes were inspired by my cilantro-harissa grilled corn. Harissa is a North African hot sauce that I fell in love with about 4 years ago. It’s a complex hot sauce (not just heat), combining garlic and spices with serrano and other types of peppers. And although I can totally eat sweet potatoes straight up, I wanted something different, something “fancy,” so I added some harissa to the mash and braced myself for what was to come.
Well, I’m sure you’re wondering… what WAS to come?
A party in my mouth, that’s what!
The spice was balanced by the sweetness in such a harmonious way, I actually couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of this combo sooner. And the best part was, it literally took 2 seconds to take my regular sweet potatoes from ordinary to extraordinary! Try it and if you can’t find harissa, try Sriracha, an Asian garlic-chili paste, or a spicy condiment of choice.
Happy Saturday folks and see you next week with a new recipe!!!
Harissa Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sized sweet potatoes–washed
1-3 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter, margarine of choice)–softened
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon harissa (to taste, really)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the washed sweet potatoes all around with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake until soft (~60 minutes). If you are strapped for time, feel free to use the microwave to bake the potatoes. Set aside once soft.
*Mix Earth Balance, harissa, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper. Add harissa mixture to the baked sweet potatoes (you can keep the skin on the potatoes or remove it). Mash or whip until the potatoes are the desired consistency/texture. Adjust seasoning. Enjoy!