In mid- to late-spring, the Lexington Farmer’s Market is just getting its footing; the bounty of summer’s produce is still several weeks away and the variety of Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables have yet to reach impressive levels. But it is possible to make a beautiful meal from what’s currently available. Recently, I cooked the farmer’s market with a meal of Savory Sweet Potato Cakes with Asparagus, Shiitake and Basil Goat Cheese. I did, of course, have to supplement with a few store-bought ingredients…I don’t expect to see KY-grown lemons any time soon…but the point of the endeavor was to shop, cook and eat the farmer’s market during a time of relative scarcity. It turned out deliciously.
Ingredients from the market:
- Organic Sweet Potatoes
- Organic Asparagus
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Goat Cheese
- Basil, hydroponically grown
Soon after shopping at the market, I spent a delightful morning collaborating with the talented Ayna Lorenzo of Mothwing Photography. Take a look at some of her gorgeous work by visiting her website and Facebook page. Our mission: to capture the essence of the Lexington Farmer’s Market in a recipe. She did such a lovely job photographing the Savory Sweet Potato Cakes.
- Oat flour is easily made by pulsing rolled oats in a food processor.
- It may be a little strange to have two different preparations of sweet potatoes for the same recipe, but I really wanted the creaminess of a whole roasted sweet potato and the charred, crisped bits of a cut and roasted sweet potato. In the end, the look and texture is worth the effort.
- You can increase this recipe and freeze extra uncooked cakes in an airtight container between layers of parchment. No need to defrost before cooking, just add a few minutes to the final baking time and cut into one before serving to make sure it’s cooked through.
- 4 medium Sweet Potatoes, 2 left whole and 2 cut into small chunks
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- 1/2 cup Goat Cheese
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Bunch of Basil, julienned
- 1 large clove Garlic, minced
- 1/2-3/4 cup Oat Flour
- Black Pepper
- Bunch of Asparagus, woody ends snapped off
- Handful Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400F, or the appropriate roasting temperature for your oven.
- Prick the whole sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a small roasting tray. On a separate tray, toss the cut sweet potatoes with enough oil to coat and a good sprinkling of salt. Roast the sweet potatoes until the whole ones are completely tender all the way through (should take a little over an hour) and the cut ones are tender and nicely darkened (should take around 40 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 375F.
- Meanwhile, make the basil goat cheese by stirring together the goat cheese, a splash of olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and a small amount of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust lemon and seasonings as needed. Once happy, fold in a few tablespoons of basil. Refrigerate until needed.
- To form the savory cakes, scoop the flesh out of the whole roasted sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Add the cut sweet potatoes, a squeeze of lemon juice, the garlic, 1/2 cup of oat flour, 1/2 tsp salt and a good amount of pepper. Stir to combine but be careful not to break up the cut sweet potatoes too much, they should retain their form in the mixture. Refrigerate this mixture for at least half an hour.
- Once chilled, form into 8 small patties. Dust each cake with the remaining oat flour to coat the flat sides then brush each side with oil. Place on a parchment lined sheet and bake until each flat side is browned, about 40 minutes, flipping after 25 minutes of baking time.
- Just before the cakes come out of the oven, slice the asparagus spears at an angle into long pieces. Heat a medium pan over med-high heat. Pour in a little oil then toss in the asparagus with a bit of salt. Stir frequently until the asparagus begins to blacken in parts and is tender through to the center…this will only take a few minutes. Remove from the pan.
- Heat the same pan again, add a bit more oil then toss in the sliced shiitake, again stirring frequently to adequately sauté the mushrooms. Once they’ve been in the pan a few minutes, season with a small amount of salt and continue cooking until the mushrooms have browned.
- To serve, place a small pile of asparagus on each plate and top with 1 or 2 sweet potato cakes. Place a few mushrooms on top of the cake then crown everything with a scoop of the goat cheese cream.
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Image Credits: Mothwing Photography