The Chef’s Take: Sweet Potato Tacos at A.W.O.L.
Typically, the sight of sweet potatoes on the dinner table leaves us dreaming of lavish Thanksgiving Day feasts. But at A.W.O.L. (that stands for All Walks of Life) Eatery, a funky restaurant celebrating farm-fresh ingredients in New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood, spicy sweet potato tacos — sans the company of cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes — may make an appearance on the daily-changing menu amid even the sultriest of temperatures.
“Sweet potatoes are versatile,” says A.W.O.L. chef John Powali. “You can do everything from grill to boil them. They work well in light dishes because they are so well adapted to citrusy flavors of the summer.”
At the health-minded A.W.O.L, where the kitchen enthusiastically accommodates eaters with even the most-severe dietary restrictions, omnivores, vegans and gluten shunners alike unite over this Middle Eastern-meets-Latin American concoction that melds the vitamin A-laden sweet potatoes with zesty ingredients like cilantro, curry, spinach and coconut.
“The dish starts out very aromatic by lightly sauteing the garlic, ginger, cilantro, parsley and chiles,” says A.W.O.L. chef Daniel Zuanetto. “Couple that with the smoothness of the coconut milk, sweetness of the potato and the hint of tart you get from the lime, and it’s perfection wrapped in a white corn tortilla.”
Peel the sweet potato and cut into ¼-inch cubes. Boil 2 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the water and add the potatoes when boiling. Cook for 8 minutes or until fork-tender, then drain. In a pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro and chipotle. Cook for 1 minute, and just as the garlic starts to brown, add the sweet potatoes, spinach, 1 teaspoon salt, and curry powder. Toss and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Heat the tortillas in the oven for 30 seconds until warm and malleable. Place sweet potato mixture into each tortilla and secure with a toothpick. In a bowl, add cilantro, lime, coconut chips and remaining salt. Toss to coat, and garnish the tacos.
Per serving (salt not included): Calories 171; Fat 5 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 117 mg; Carbohydrate 28 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 3 g
Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern.