My exposure to any type of potato growing up was very limited to the basic Russet variety, or sweet potatoes covered with some kind of sickening-sweet marshmallow goop. I was so traumatized by the marshmallow potato nightmare of my childhood holidays, that at one time, I swore off sweet potatoes entirely. I actually believed that they were only served that way, and thank goodness I was wrong about that!
After leaving my home town, I ventured outside of my narrow culinary view of the world and began to enjoy many new food experiences during my travels. The first time I began to explore the world of tubers was during a trip to Nepal. I realized that there were endless possibilities, both sweet and savory, and there were vastly different flavors among the different varieties. A small potato referred to as a ‘mountain potato’, was often on the menu at many guesthouses during my time trekking in the mountains, and I usually ate them fried up for breakfast. They needed no additional seasoning and I quickly forgot about wanting to smother them with ketchup. I guess you could say that my potato third “eye” had been opened.
The culinary appreciation I have from my travels has extended itself to my love of the Okinawan sweet potato. My garden is literally over flowing with Okinawan sweet potatoes. They are planted in three different garden beds in my yard, as well as in four giant potato growing bags. They are extremely popular in Hawaii, and they are often wrapped in a kalo (taro) leaf with a piece of pork and/or fish to make laulau. The one thing to know about these purple potatoes is that they are very dense. Wayyy more dense than a Russet. This is perfect for being wrapped inside of laulaus because they can be cooked for a very long time and still hold their texture. They are also nutritional powerhouses that are said to have more antioxidants than blueberries, which is just one reason why I like to put them into veggie dishes whenever I can.
One of those dishes is a simple potato duo that uses purple and white potatoes, fresh garden herbs and coconut oil. The presentation is impressive because of the way the colorful slices are fanned out in the baking dish. (It would probably look more fancy to alternate between white and purple slices if you want to give it a try.) This coming Mostly Vegan Monday, I am making it to go with a lentil “meat” loaf and arugula salad. This recipe is made using both Russet and Okinawan potatoes. I would select potatoes of similar size and length, and I tend to slice the purple ones just a little bit thinner.
Roasted 'Hapa' Potatoes
A tasty blend of mild Russet potatoes and rich Okinawan sweet potatoes.
- 3 Okinawan sweet potatoes
- 3 Russet potatoes (or other baking potato)
- 3 T. coconut oil, softened
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
- generous amounts of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel and slice potatoes into 1/8 inch slices, either by hand, or using a mandoline slicer.
- Generously grease sides and bottom of casserole dish with softened coconut oil. Lay potatoes evenly in the bottom of casserole dish and slightly fan out the slices to cover the whole thing.
- Chop herbs and sprinkle over sliced potatoes. Add salt and black pepper.
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Then turn oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, uncover, and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until edges are crispy and inside is soft.