Sweet Potato Fritters

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Round 2 of sweet potato week, woot! But I won’t entertain you with another science lecture. Today’s story is about the glories of leftovers, and the joys of unexpectedly finding something in your freezer that makes your life so much easier.

Since most of my cooking is for one, I have a ton of leftovers. Usually, I bring them to work as lunch or eat them for dinner. But sometimes, I get bored of eating chili for weeks on end, or I’ve cooked up a storm and have my entire week’s meals already ready, or I have a million plans and won’t be eating dinner at home, or you know, I just want to order delivery.

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On those days, the freezer is a godsend. Portion out the leftovers into individual servings and freeze them, then inhale more pad thai than is humanly possible. Wash, rinse, repeat. My freezer is the size of a shoebox, but I toss so much random stuff in there that I often “lose” things — forget about them so completely that I can’t even recognize them through the clear Tupperware lid.

That’s what happened with these sweet potato fritters. In mid-January, I made Southwest-stuffed sweet potato skins for a Daily Meal piece on healthy Super Bowl snacks (the recipes are awesome and March Madness is coming up, so you should check it out). I had a ton of leftover filling, so I packed it up, put it in the freezer and promptly lost all track of it.

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And when Googling for a reasonably healthy but still delicious snack to bring to my aunt’s on Oscar night, one recipe in particular caught my eye: sweet potato fritters, filled with corn and cheese and then fried to golden perfection. The recipe looked terribly familiar, and then I realized that I basically had 75% of the work already done and sitting in my apartment.

Incredibly long story short: these sweet potato fritters are loosely based on another recipe. Any time you can take leftovers and transform them into something new and delicious, I’m 100% on board. (It’s how I got through 6 days of eating broccoli slaw stir fry — by day 4, that had turned into fried rice, with a scrambled egg tossed in for good measure.) And adding a bit of cheese and some cornmeal definitely wakes up an otherwise batch of glorified mashed potatoes.

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I kept these on the healthy side by baking the fritters instead of frying them, mostly because I’m lazy and didn’t want to hover over the stove for a half hour. (I instead used that time to watch more of my new show. And yes, I realize I’m horrifyingly late to the party, but what else is new?) The end result is addictively good —  by keeping the fritters small, they’re that much easier to pop into your mouth, one by one by one by one until your leftovers are all gone. 

Sweet Potato Fritters
Inspired by Running to the Kitchen, Eating Well and Culinary Adventures in the Kitchen

– 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– 1/2 large red onion, diced

– 1 15-ounce can corn kernels, drained and rinsed

– 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

– 1/2 large bell pepper, seeded and diced

– 1 tablespoon chili powder

– 1 tablespoon ground cumin

– 1 egg

– 1/2 cup ground cornmeal

– 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

– salt and pepper, to taste

– 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 400F. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until the flesh is tender. Remove the oven and set aside to cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 425F.

2) While the potatoes are baking, heat the oil in a large skillet on medium. Saute the onions
until they are softened and beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes.

3) Stir in the corn, black beans, bell peppers, chili powder and ground cumin. Saute for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through and beginning to brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4) Once the potatoes are cooked and cooled, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop the flesh out of the sweet potato skin and stir it into the corn-black bean mixture. Refrigerate until cooled completely.

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5) After the mixture has cooled, stir in the egg, cornmeal, cayenne, salt, pepper and cheese. Scoop the mixture into golf ball-sized rounds and place on a lined baking sheet.

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6) Bake the fritters for 30-35 minutes, turning them halfway. Serve warm, with salsa.

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