As the decade came to a close, there were endless lists of things that defined the 2010s; from veganism to Netflix, gender equality to renewables. It got me thinking about the foods that have defined the decade: quinoa, oat milk, sweet potatoes, sumac.
I’d say sweet potatoes have been my Netflix of the kitchen this decade, especially now that some British farmers are growing them, too. In honour of this, here are the two sweet potato recipes I cook the most; I’d class them both as side dishes, but the kind of sides that sit centre stage and put anything you eat with them firmly in the shade – or the 2010s.
Charred sweet potatoes with honeyed lime butter (pictured above)
Sweet potato chips and wedges are often dinner in our house, and this way with them is our new favourite. If you are vegan, use coconut oil instead of butter (the flavour is very good with the chilli and lime) and maple syrup for honey.
Prep 20 min
Cook 35 min
1kg sweet potatoes, washed and cut into long fingers, slices or chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coriander seeds, bashed in a mortar
50g salted butter, at room temperature
Zest of 2 unwaxed limes
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/gas 7. Toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil, some salt and the coriander seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway, until soft and a little charred.
Put the butter, lime zest, chilli and one tablespoon of honey in a food processor, and blitz (you could also mix by hand with a wooden spoon).
Remove the sweet potato from the oven, toss in the remaining tablespoon of honey, and return to the oven for another few minutes. Pile the sweet potatoes on to a serving plate and toss in the herbed butter. Serve warm as a side.
Lemon and sweet potato mash
I eat a good amount of this from the pot before it gets to anyone’s plates. Steaming the sweet potatoes with the lemon halves gives the whole thing a very pleasing freshness.
Prep 20 min
Cook 35 min
1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 unwaxed lemon, halved
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped (including the stalks)
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds
In a steamer, cook the sweet potatoes and lemon for 15-20 minutes, until completely soft.
Transfer all the potatoes to a food processor and, once cool enough to handle, squeeze in the juice from the steamed lemons and add the chilli, coriander, oil, a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Blitz a few times until mixed but not totally smooth (you can mash them by hand, if you like).
Heat a little oil in a frying pan, add the spring onions and sesame seeds, and cook until the spring onions have browned a little and the seeds are golden. Divide the mash between bowls and top with the spring onions and sesame seeds.