When we go out to eat, I have a habit of getting sidetracked by certain ingredients while I am perusing the menu. Wild mushrooms is one, for example, and duck confit. And bacon is usually on the list, though that depends on my mood. If a dish contains one of these ingredients I tend to stop at it and read no further. My decision is made. Well, unless there are two or more different menu items that each contain one or more of the hallowed pantheon of can’t-pass-ups. Then I find myself in a state of indecisive paralysis, completely unable to make up my mind, usually asking the server to come to my rescue with advice, and then more often than not rejecting that advice and ordering something else. (I hope this isn’t too annoying to them!)
Anyway, avocados and roasted sweet potatoes are two more of my choice ingredients. There’s nothing particularly exotic or hard to make at home about them, but they’re still up at the top of the list because they are so darn wonderful. I think if I were to be any food, I would be an avocado. Really. They seem so jovial with their portly little figures and wrinkly, knobbly skin. I bet they could tell good jokes. And they’re all about the message that beauty is not what’s on the surface because underneath that gnarled exterior is a silky smooth nutty delicious interior. And then, roasted sweet potatoes are my second favorite food! (After whipped cream, which usually doesn’t appear on dinner menus anyway, and if it does it’s on some weird Finnish beet dish or something else that I’m just not in the mood for.)
So, imagine how good these two are together, cozied up with some soft goat cheese between two hearty pieces of bread. Awesomely good, that’s how good! This is another idea inspired by a local cafe. There they serve a sweet potato and avocado sandwich on semolina bread, but they coat the filling with this poppy seed dressing that, while overall tasty, renders the sandwich far too sweet and sticky. They also add sprouts, and I just can’t get into the flavor of sprouts. They make me feel like I’m eating grass, which was fine when I was 4 and pretending to be a pony, but doesn’t really do it for me anymore. So last weekend I decided to make my own. I used creamy, tangy chevre mixed with just a titch of mustard and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. If you don’t like chevre, I can say from experience that Cheddar is a good alternative, and so, actually, is tahini, if you’re not doing dairy.
I grilled and pressed the sandwich so that all the soft, smooshy fillings (smooshy in a good way) were supported by the structure of the crisp, sturdy bread. The layers are beautiful technicolored strata, in shades that make me think of a Crayola crayon box. The sweet, caramelized deeply orange potato, the nutty, buttery green avocado, and the tangy, salty white chevre paint a delicious and satisfying mural.(Which I am cleverly naming: Lunch)
Sweet Potato and Avocado Panini (serves 1)
This sandwich is the easiest if you already have some leftover roasted sweet potato around, but I’m putting in directions to roast sweet potato, in case you wanted to do it all at once.
- 1 small-medium sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbs. soft goat cheese (chevre)
- 1/2 tsp. mustard – grainy mustard or Dijon, your pick
- 1 tsp. chopped herbs (chives, basil, thyme – or you can just buy herbed goat cheese, which would be easier)
- 4 or so slices of avocado
- 2 slices of good multigrain bread
- Heat your oven to 425 F. Toss the sweet potato slices with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork (20ish minutes). Set aside.
- Mix together the goat cheese with the mustard and herbs. Spread this on one of the pieces of bread. Lay pieces of roast potato then avocado on top. Top with the other piece of bread.
- Heat a panini grill and oil it lightly. Or, just heat some butter/olive oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Grill the sandwich. In the panini grill this will take 4-5 minutes. In the frying pan, put the sandwich in, put another heavy pan on top of it to press it. Let it cook for about 4 minutes. Take of the heavy pan, put a little butter on the top side. Flip, weight it back down with the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on the second side. Slice in half and serve warm.