Roasted Sweetpotato, Poblano and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

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 Creamy roasted California sweetpotato is the perfect vegetarian filling for quesadillas when paired with smoky poblano chilies, caramelized onion and goat cheese. 

Coming to a grocery store near you – California sweetpotatoes!  Today’s recipe is for a contest sponsored by California sweetpotatoes.  

They may look similar, but California sweetpotatoes are different from other sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and yams.  What sets them apart is that they are grown in a soft, sandy soil and carefully sorted to yield a more visually attractive potato.  Also, they have one name, not two, which obviously makes them cooler (see Madonna, Beyonce, Kanye...Meatloaf)Sweetpotatoes and other starchy vegetables often get a bad rep because of their starch content and association with Thanksgiving dinner, but there is no reason to fear the delicious and nutritious sweetpotato.   I hate calorie counting, but just to prove a point, a mediuim sweetpotato only contains 105 calories.  Along with that comes 4 grams of filling fiber, more than a days worth of vitamin A and a hefty dose of vitamin C and potassium.

I always suspected yams and sweetpotatoes were different, but I didn't know how until this contest.  Yams are native to Africa, while sweetpotatoes were first cultivated in South America.  Yams have a drier, starchier flesh.  Sweetpotatoes are sweet and moist.  In fact, yams and sweetpotatoes are in different plant families.  Sweetpotatoes are part of the morning glory family (random) and yams are part of the, well, the yam family.
Growing up, I generally only ate sweetpotatoes in my mom’s Thanksgiving sweetpotato casserole.  It's pretty fantastic, but I'm quite sure the recipe calls for just as much butter and brown sugar as it does sweetpotato.  Definitely a once a year treat.  Since I started cooking, I continue to be surprised by the versatility of sweetpotatoes – sweet or savory, spicy or mild, creamy or crunchy, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they can do it all!
- Make sweetpotato hash for breakfast.  Dice up a sweet potato and sauté in olive oil with peppers and onion.  Top with a poached egg and serve with plenty of hot sauce. - Pureed sweetpotato makes a darn good cheese substitute in vegan mac and cheese.  You know how much I love cheese, so you can consider that a real seal of approval. - Make my all time favorite enchiladas.  Creamy roasted sweetpotatoes tossed with black beans, stuffed in a corn tortilla then smothered in a spicy green chili sauce...mmm.  I just ate dinner and my stomach is growling thinking of it! - Fritter it!  Adapt my cauliflower fritter recipe for sweetpotatoes, make latkes (Thanksgivukah is just around the corner!), or try this Indian-spiced version. - My first ever kitchen disaster (as a grown up at least) was with sweetpotato gnocchi.  My old roomies back at University Village can attest - they all saw me covered in flour over a pot of orange goo.  Since then, I've conquered my kitchen demon and the result was pretty incredible.  For your information, actually abiding by the measurements called for when making gnocchi is kind of important.  Who knew? - Being a South American vegetable, sweetpotatoes naturally go well in South American dishes.  When Scott and I traveled to Chile, we ate every variety of empanadas we could find.  Our favorite?  Sweetpotatoes with ham and cheese, called empanadas de camote. - Kale and sweetpotatoes are BFFs.  Turn them into a filling for tacos, a skillet dinner with black beans or layered in lasagna. - Roasted sweetpotatoes are one of the easiest, most delicious weeknight side dishes.  Tossed with pesto makes them just that much more awesome. - Sweetpotatoes on a sandwich?  Carb on carb?  Yes and yes!  Sweetpotatoes make some of the best veggie burgers and even boiled rounds of sweetpotato make a delicious sandwich filling when paired with pesto, arugula and goat cheese! - Sweetpotato chips made in the microwave.  This is a real thing that can actually be done.  And it tastes pretty fantastic too! - Mashed sweetpotato adds flavor to baked goods, but also helps cut the butter and sugar.  Think biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and breakfast bread.     - Healthy fix for a sweet tooth - mix mashed sweet potato with greek yogurt or part skim ricotta cheese, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla, then top with crumbled whole grain graham crackers

Disclosure: By posting, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Sweetpotato Council and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest.  I was not compensated for my time.   

Roasted Sweetpotato, Poblano and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: 6
I served this with a simple green onion slaw, which was [url href="http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2007/04/chicken-jealousy/" rel="nofollow"]a take on this[/url]. I just cut back by 1/4 cup of olive oil. Habaneros are generally pretty hot, but minus the seeds and plus 25 minutes of caramelizing, they add only a subtle heat. Next time I make this, I'm going to try feta or queso fresco and maybe even add some spinach or kale.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onion, halved and sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 habanero chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 poblano chilies
  • 2 medium California sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in ½ inch dice
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 6 100% whole wheat tortillas
  • Salsa verde
  • Nonfat or lowfat plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet set on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and habanero. Cook, stirring every so often, until caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
  2. While the onions are cooking, turn the oven to broil with the rack positioned in the top of the oven. Place the poblanos on a small baking sheet then into the oven. Broil for a few minutes, turning every few minutes, until blackened on all sides.
  3. Remove from the oven and transfer to a medium bowl. Cover with saran wrap and set aside. Once cool, peel the skin off the chilies and cut into strips.
  4. Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Spray a medium skillet with oil. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle 1 side with ½ ounce of goat cheese. Top with 1/6th of the chilies, onions and roasted sweet potatoes.
  6. Cook until the cheese is melty and the tortilla is lightly toasted. Flip the toppingless side over the toppings and press down slightly. Cook another minute. Remove from the skillet and repeat with the remaining tortillas and toppings.
  7. Cut each quesadilla into 3 triangles and serve with salsa verde and yogurt.