Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art Smith's Sweet Potato Salad

By Paul Briand

Here's an at home recipe I brought on the road.

The occasion was a family reunion folded around the Air Force at Army football game that occurs at West Point, N.Y., every two years.

This year the event attracted about 50 relatives and included lots of eating -- both at the hotel where we all stayed and at our tailgate party that preceded and followed the football game on Saturday.

My contribution was a sweet potato salad, the recipe for which I found in a recent issue of AARP the Magazine. It comes from Art Smith, who is described in the magazine piece as Oprah Winfrey's former personal chef.

4 orange-fleshed yams (sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup mayonnaise , regular or reduced-fat
4 ribs celery , cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 small red bell pepper , seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup diced (1/2-inch) ripe fresh pineapple
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans , toasted
Chopped fresh chives , for garnish

1. Wrap the individual potatoes in foil. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 1 hour, until tender. Cool until easy to handle. Peel, then cut into 3/4-inch chunks;
2. In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise and mustard. Add the yams, celery, red pepper, pineapple, and scallions and toss gently, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerated until chilled, about 1 hour. (The salad can be made 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Adjust the seasonings before serving.);
3. Just before serving, fold in the pecans and sprinkle with the chives. Serve chilled.

A couple of notes: The hardest part of this recipe is getting the sweet potatoes cooked so that they're not undercooked but not so overcooked as to make them mushy once the salad is mixed. Mind tended to be a little on the mush side.

I also doubled the amount of pineapple and added a little more mayo. I felt it needed the added sweetness and the smoother consistency that a bit more mayo brought.

And, when I made this recipe for the first time at home, I substituted almost for pecans. When I made the dish for the crowd I didn't use any nuts at all, just to be on the side side against any food allergies.

For recipe card of Art Smith's Sweet Potato Salad, click here.

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