Easy Weeknight Dinners // Un-Recipe No. 19:
Baked Sweet Potato And Pea Pesto With Crostini
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Baked sweet potato stuffed with seasonal summer ingredients: homemade pea pesto, buttery sourdough crostini, spicy watercress and roasted scapes. Pin this post.
2. Toast The Crisps: Find yourself a good sourdough baguette. Don’t skimp on the quality! You want the good artisan bakehouse bread; the kind that’s crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. If it’s a day old, that’s okay, since we’re going to toast it up.
Using a serrated bread knife, cut the baguette into very thin ¼” slices. Lightly butter both sides of each slice. Don’t put too much butter on here, since there will be plenty of fat in the pea pesto. Cooking is all about balance, you want just enough butter to enhance the flavor of the bread, but not too much that when combined with the oil and fat of the pea pesto the whole dish becomes too rich.
Either lightly toast the baguette slices in a toaster on low heat, or place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for a couple minutes. Do not let the toast get too black, you want it to be crispy but still pliable and able to absorb the pea pesto.
When finished toasting, lightly spread a thin layer of pea pesto on each crostini slice.
3. Prepare The Watercress Greens: Clean the greens. Lightly tear the leaves and shorten the stems so they’re easier to eat. If watercress is too pungent for you, mix in with some spring greens or drizzle with a little citrus vinaigrette.
4. Roast The Garlic Scapes: Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan. Cut off the dried ends of the scapes and chop the stems into 1” or shorter pieces. Sauté the chopped scapes in the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Turn occasionally, but let them spend extended amounts of time against the heat of the pan to develop a black, grilled crust (but don’t burn them!). The scapes will become soft and mellow when cooked. If you are a garlic lover, you’ll love how these scapes take on the delicate nuttiness of roasted garlic and melt like butter in your mouth.
5. Stuff The Sweet Potatoes: When the sweet potatoes are done cooking, cut a long seam into each from end to end, careful to not cut through the whole sweet potato. Scoop a little of the sweet potato meat out of each and mix it with a small spoonful of pea pesto. Return to the sweet potato.
Top each sweet potato with another small scoop of pea pesto. Sprinkle with the roasted scapes.
Next, artfully place a slice the pea pesto crostini into each sweet potato and garnish with watercress greens and a few walnuts. You can also serve the pea pesto crostini on the side if you prefer. I like using the crostini as a utensil to eat the sweet potato! Use it to scoop out the pesto soaked sweet potato meat. Just like chips and dip.
Watercress. This wild green is spicy and pungent and provides a nice contrast to sweetness of peas. I like to balance out the richness of the pea pesto with a bitter green such as watercress. If it’s too bitter for you, or not in season, feel free to use arugula or spinach instead.
For The Win:
Toast The Walnuts. You don’t need to toast the walnuts before making the pesto, but it will taste better if you do. I’m so surprised most pesto recipes don’t tell you to do that first. It’s a quick step that unlocks tons of flavor. Just be careful not to burn them and remove too much moisture from the nut.
Pesto Is A Concept, Not A Recipe. This is an expression of true un-recipe spirit. Here’s your pesto formula for endless possibilities: 4 parts green + 2 parts nut + 1 part oil = pesto. Substitute ingredients. Swap out greens. Play with different herbs. Add other ingredients like citrus, garlic and salt as needed. Pesto is an art, have fun with it.