2015 Update! I shot a video for this recipe (for a private event), if you’d like to take a peek and see the steps in action!
Sweet potatoes and kale–they go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least you’d think so given the proliferation of recipes that use them together. Quesadillas and that sweet potato and greens (okay, it was chard, but still a sturdy green) gratin I made for Thanksgiving are just the start, continuing with salads, breakfast hash, and a multitude of one pot mish-mashes. They’re all delicious, bringing together sweet, starchy, and earthy flavors which only require a bit of basic seasoning to become a hearty, healthy meal. These cakes leverage that concept, combining a simple batter (with an easy gluten free option) with shreds of sweet potato, finely chopped green kale, and some onion and garlic for a warm, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside pancake perfect for an appetizer, snack, brunch, lunch, or a breakfast for dinner spread. Serve them alone, with a side of thick cut bacon and fresh fruit for a morning meal, or with pulled pork, biscuits, and pickled red onions for a fun weekend dinner. And whatever you do, make sure you add a side of your favorite condiment: sriracha, sour cream, a quick creamy buffalo sauce, or tangy avocado dip or guac. The options are endless.
I first made a zucchini and russet potato version of these for a small crowd on St. Patrick’s Day, as we were about to head out at 11 AM for a day of celebrating my, um, non-Irish heritage. Seeing as this was back in the day (two years ago), when myself and most people I knew could tolerate more than three beers, or even a shot of whiskey before noon, we needed a solid breakfast to get us going. Accompanied by a side of stewed, spiced apples and, I think, some breakfast meat, these were the perfect satisfying thing to keep rolling off the griddle as friends all chowed down.
Even more exciting than these cakes, though, is my current location–I’m in Oklahoma! Shout out to you if you’re nearby. I’m in the OKC area, visiting for my sister’s bridal shower and, with the help of my parents who came down from Minneapolis, her move with her fiance into their first house! I have to say, I’m pretty jealous of the food photography potential with a couple of gigantic north-facing windows. It’s a little chaotic and a lot of fun, though, and we’ve pretty much been moving since I hit the ground yesterday around 3 PM. We’re about to head out for some tourist fun now, and tonight I’m likely going to make dinner. There have been some upset tummies around here, so I’m thinking I’ll keep it neutral but filling. I have Tori’s (coincidentally, also my sister’s name) quinoa and avocado tabbouleh on the brain, perhaps with roasted cauliflower and shrimp, plus a chickpea and cucumber salad. All things that don’t require a ton of dishes and utensils, seeing as we may not be able to locate every kitchen gadget in the mass of boxes sitting in the garage.
One final note on the cakes: when mixed and ready to fry, the batter will not look like it’s going to form cohesive cakes. Rather, you’ll expect it to break into its component kale and sweet potato chunks the minute it hits the pan, more stir fry than pancake. Don’t give up hope, though, you’ve got it right. Just keep the batter in a mound as it hits the pan, and it will begin to form a single, unified pancake. After a minute or two on the first side, press down with a spatula, and it will be ready to flip before you know it. I’ll add some process photos to help next time I make them.
- ¼ C panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free okay)
- ¼ C almond meal (preferably blanched)
- 2 T brown rice flour
- ½ T ground flaxseed
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t Kosher salt
- ¼ t ground black pepper
- 3 eggs
- ¾ C chopped onion (small chop; ½ medium onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 ½ C shredded sweet potato (1 small)
- 2 ½ C finely chopped green kale, stems discarded (about ⅓ of a bunch)
- 2 to 4 T canola oil
- Whisk panko, almond meal, rice flour, flax, baking soda, salt, and pepper together in large bowl. Add eggs and whisk until well combined. Stir in onion and garlic, then use hands or a wooden spoon to toss with sweet potato and kale, mixing very thoroughly. Each piece of kale and potato should be coated in “batter”, but the mixture may look loose, like it won’t form cakes (it will, don’t worry!)
- Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium and add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Use a muffin/ice cream scoop or measuring cup to scoop ¼ packed cup of the mixture and gently release it into the hot oil. After a minute, press cakes down with a spatula so they start to bind. A 10” skillet should hold 3 cakes at a time. After 4 minutes, when cakes are golden brown on one side and starting to hold together (the exposed side will still be a little loose), gently scoop and flip each cake with a spatula. Press down again and cook another 4 minutes, until golden to brown on the second side. Drain finished cakes on paper towels. To keep warm while cooking remaining cakes, place on a warm baking tray in a 175 degree oven.