Last weekend we celebrated my roommates birthday with a wine tasting trip to Temecula and then a barbeque in our back yard; grilling hamburgers and making homemade fries.  A friend suggested that I get ideas from local food trucks, so it got me thinking tasty combinations like garlic chive fries, oregano thyme parmesan fries, and savory sweet potato fries.  I bought many potatoes, so I had the opportunity to try others out after the party.

I was inspired by an appetizer at a local spot called District Wine which has a cozy but sophisticated atmosphere, good wine, and tasty food.  I always get the Roasted Bar Nuts so I thought it would be interesting to combine this with sweet potatoes, you know, kind of a healthy dessert version of potato bites.

These go really well with a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have heard that Gascon at Trader Joe’s is really good, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I bought a blend of Merlot and Malbec from Baily Vineyard and Winery in Temecula that I’m excited to share with my roommates.

The cayenne pepper gives the chocolate a great kick and the rosemary brings out the flavor of the roasted nuts.  I confess that the mixed nuts stand on their own, but the sweet potato is a fun bed to serve it on.  The soft sweet potato and the crunchy nuts is a big surprise to your taste buds.  I happen to love any surprise to my taste buds; given my love for beer and wine!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mixture of chopped walnuts, almonds, and pecans
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices (enough to fill up a large mixing bowl)
  • 4 Tbs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbs grape seed oil
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 ounces of bittersweet or dark chocolate, shaved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and roast the nuts for 5-10 minutes, turning often and being careful not to burn.  Set aside.
  2. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, coat sweet potatoes with grape seed oil, 2 Tbs of rosemary, and 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.  Move potatoes from one mixing bowl to another if necessary to evenly coat.
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and bake the sweet potatoes for 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until the potatoes begin to brown.
  5. Combine the nuts, remaining rosemary and cayenne pepper.  Melt the butter in the microwave and mix with the sugar.  Add to the nut mixture until evenly combined.
  6. Spoon the nut mixture on top of the sweet potatoes and bake for another 10 minutes until the nuts are hot.
  7. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and sprinkle on the dark chocolate shavings.  Since the chocolate will melt, consider waiting 5 minutes to retain the  texture of the chocolate.

What is your favorite appetizer of local spot?

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