Sunday, March 3, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato Sliders with Garlic Cream Sauce and Avocado

Not too long ago I discovered the blog Eats Well with Others. Not only was I instantly captivated by her abundance of hearty winter squash dishes, but I felt an odd kinship with the blogger, Joanne. You see, her dad died of cancer last fall. While I didn't lose a dad to cancer, I lost a dear friend who was kinda like a second dad to me.

Charles fought his cancer tooth and nail--complete with a bone marrow transplant, numerous hospitalizations, and twice-weekly trips to the cancer clinic for infusions and blood draws and the like. He fought hard for nearly three years, and those of us close to him fought right alongside him for those three years.

Joanne's dad, on the other hand, did the opposite--he lived with cancer for two years without telling anyone, because he wanted to live fully the life he had left, and didn't want his life and family's lives to be tainted by cancer treatments. His family didn't find out until his last two weeks of life.

I think both ways are awful ways to grieve, because grief is awful no matter how you look at it. Although everyone's grief is different, I think there's a sameness to all our grief. I don't know quite what anyone else's grief feels like . . . but at the same time I know exactly what their grief feels like.

I feel this connection with Joanne, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who turns to cooking for therapy.

Speaking of cooking therapy, let's talk about sweet potato sliders. They're quite yummy: smoky from the smoked paprika, a touch of sweet from the sweet potatoes and maple syrup, creamy from the avocado and yogurt, with this amazing punch of roasted garlic. And, if you use more chipotle than I was brave enough to sprinkle in, you'll get some nice heat, too.

Joanne did home-made whole wheat buns/rolls for her sliders. I went the easy route and bought a pan of Sister Schubert's rolls. I imagine Hawaiian rolls would also be good with these.

I do recommend that you use smoked paprika rather than plain paprika. If you don't already have some in your spice collection, it's worth purchasing, as it adds this wonderful smoky flavor that's so good in this dish.

Smoky Sweet Potato Sliders with Garlic Cream Sauce and Avocado

Adapted from Eats Well with Others
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Yield: 12 sliders

For the Patties
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cup cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Dash of cumin
Sprinkle of chipotle powder

For the Garlic Cream Sauce
2 bulbs garlic (as in bulbs, not cloves)
2/3 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tsp. maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste

For Cooking and Assembling
Olive oil
1-2 avocados, sliced
12 small dinner rolls

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the top quarter off of the two bulbs of garlic. Drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil over each bulb. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap each in a paper towel and then microwave for 5 minutes. Flip over and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from the microwave, slice in half, and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh.

In a bowl, coarsely mash the cannellini beans with a fork. Add in the sweet potato flesh, then mash together. Mix in the panko, flour, egg, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, cumin, and chipotle powder. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

While the mixture is chilling, combine the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until pureed. If needed, add a tiny splash of milk.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a swirl of olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray). Remove the burger mixture from the fridge and form into 12 equal patties. Place them in the skillet once it is hot. Let them cook until they are fully set and golden on one side, about 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.

Assemble by topping the dinner rolls with a burger, roasted garlic sauce, and avocado slices. Serve as a snack or appetizer, or turn them into a meal by serving 3-4 sliders per person.

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