If you’ve been following our Simply Recipes updates on Twitter then you know that I recently spent a week in the Bahamas with several other food bloggers at the Club Med Food and Wine Festival (more on that soon). As we were being wined and dined, and treated to amazing 6 and 7 course meals every night I kept my eye out for ideas and recipes that might work well for us at home. The first night’s dinner was spectacular (you can see a list of menus here on Jaden’s site), and included fresh caught wahoo fish served on top of a boniato mint mash. As good as the fish was, I could have skipped it completely and just had a huge plate of the sweet potatoes, they were so good.
Boniato is a sweet potato popular in the Caribbean, light in color, and fluffy when cooked. The chef who prepared the mash was Chef Sean Bernal of The Oceanaire Seafood Room Miami, who recalled to us how his grandmother in Puerto Rico would make him boniato sweet potato with onions and mint. Chef Sean generously shared with us how he prepared the mash, the trick he said was to roast the sweet potatoes so that you get the richness of flavor from the caramelization of the sugars in them. I prepared a couple batches, one boiled and one roasted, and I agree that the roasted approach produces more flavor, but it also takes longer to cook and uses more energy, so if you have time, yes, roast, but if not, boiling works fine too. The real surprise was the combination of the sweet potatoes, crunchy raw chopped onions, and mint. I never would have thought to put mint with sweet potatoes, but it’s a great combination.
Regarding the boniato sweet potato. I think they are pretty easy to come by in places like Florida, but our local Whole Foods doesn’t carry them. So I used a Japanese variety of a pale yellow sweet potato instead, which worked fine. (Apologies to Chef Sean, but we make do with what we have, right?) Another surprising touch was the addition of just a little bit of vanilla, it made the mash seem even creamier. I honestly can’t remember if Sean added sugar or not, but if you like your sweet potatoes to be sweet, you can add a little to taste (I think we added one teaspoon for the whole 3 lb batch.)
- 3 lbs light yellow sweet potatoes (boniato if you can get them), peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup (or more) water
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1/2 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, packed, (about 30-40 leaves)
- 2 Tbsp minced cliantro, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 You can cook the sweet potatoes by either roasting or boiling. To roast, rub olive oil all over the pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put them in a roasting pan, cook at 425°F for 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. To boil, put in a saucepan and cover with an inch or two of cold water. Bring to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the pieces.
2 Place cooked sweet potato pieces in a large bowl, add olive oil, mash with a potato masher until completely mashed. Slowly add water, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sweet potatoes reach desired consistency.
3 Stir in the onions, garlic, mint, and cilantro. Stir in vanilla extract. Add more salt, and maybe a little sugar if you want, to taste.