By ELIZABETH KARMEL
---- — Much as I love mashed white potatoes, my favorite "potato" is the sweet variety.
Just before serving, you sprinkle on more cheese, add a healthy spoonful of the sauteed kale and, if you like, top with toasted pumpkin seeds for a welcome crunch. If you don't like kale, you can saute spinach instead. And while I have specified fontina and Gruyere for the cheeses, Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella are great, too.
Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Garlic
For the garlic:
3 heads garlic
2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
For the sweet potatoes:
4 large sweet potatoes
2 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of dried sage
1 large shallot, chopped
1 bunch (about 5 oz.) baby or chopped Tuscan kale
1/2 c. grated fontina cheese
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 to 1 c. shredded white cheddar, Gruyere or mozzarella cheese
3 T. toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Roasted chicken (optional)
Heat the oven to 400°.
Remove the outer layer of papery skin from the heads of garlic. Slice off 1/4 inch from pointy top of each. Place each head of garlic, cut side up, on a square of heavy-duty foil. Drizzle each with olive oil, then sprinkle with a bit of salt. Wrap the foil loosely up and over the garlic heads, then roast for 1 hour, or until the cloves are golden-brown and soft. Remove and let cool.
Once the garlic has cooled enough to handle, remove the cloves from their skins. In a small food processor, combine the garlic cloves and butter, then pulse until chopped and combined. This can be done up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate until needed.
To roast the potatoes, heat the oven to 400°.
Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork, then rub them with oil. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, if the roasted garlic paste has been refrigerated, let it come to room temperature while the potatoes roast. Once it has warmed, mix in the butter, sage and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
About 15 minutes before the potatoes have finished, finely chop the shallot. In a medium saute pan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallot and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the kale, and saute for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until tender. Set aside.
When the potatoes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and let them cool until easy to touch. Leave the oven on. Cut the potatoes down the middle and scoop out about half of the flesh from each, making sure to keep a thick layer of sweet potato within the skin so that it can stand on its own.
In a bowl, mash the sweet potato, the roasted garlic and sage mixture and the fontina cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between each potato, spooning it into the shell of each. Top with your choice of shredded cheese and the hot sauteed kale.
Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet and return to the oven until hot, about 15 minutes. They also can be microwaved for 2 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with pumpkin seeds and chicken, if desired. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (not including optional chicken and pumpkin seeds): 230 calories; 120 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 8 g protein; 270 mg sodium.