North Carolina Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Here's an easy-to-prepare, nutritious and colorful salsa recipe with a decided twist. The key ingredient? Sweet potatoes from North Carolina-the leader in U.S. sweet potato production.

"What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to prepare and the fact that the ingredients are fresh, healthy and readily available," said Sue Johnson-Langdon, North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission executive director. "It's a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and fish, or it can be served with chips as a crowd-pleasing appetizer. It's distinct, new and totally unexpected," she said.

What makes it different is the addition of roasted sweet potatoes. "When diners find out that the bright orange recipe ingredient is sweet potato, they love it even more, both for its uniqueness and flavor," she continued.

According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes. CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables.

Sara Foster, three-time cookbook author and chef/owner of Foster's Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C., contributed this recipe to the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission.

North Carolina Roasted

Sweet Potato Salsa

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tomato, cored and chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)

2 fresh jalapeņos, seeded and diced

2 scallions, minced (green and white part)

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro

Juice and zest of 1 large lime (about 2 tablespoons)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, vinegar, chili powder and cumin and spread in one layer on a large, rimmed baking pan. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the potatoes are golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, place the tomato, red bell pepper, jalapeņos, scallions, cilantro, lime juice and zest with the sweet potatoes; toss until combined. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with eggs, tostadas, grilled steak, pork chops or chicken. Makes approximately 31/4 cups.

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About The Author, Stacey Moore
For sweet potato recipes galore, go to www.ncsweetpotatoes.com.Easy-to-find, healthy and fresh ingredients make this salsa recipe a hit on the health and flavor charts.