Sometimes, a person just needs a little dietary pick-me-up. Something vibrant and pungent and powerful to transform the winter’s supply of root vegetables into something exotic and new. Something intense. Something that will take the taste buds out for a wild night on the town.
I was having just such a craving the other day as I was thumbing through recipe books, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Mojo Sauce. Mojo sauce. It sounded interesting. Like something that Austin Powers would eat. In fact, when I read it I could distinctly hear a yeah baby! from some distant recess of my brain. To be honest, I think that was what sold me.
The recipe originates from the Canary Islands, and is a mixture of garlic, parsley, cilantro, jalapeño, olive oil and lime juice with a mixture of toasted spices. I’m not sure if their meaning of mojo is the same as our modern one, but it would seem to fit. I looked mojo up the dictionary out of curiosity and found Mojo: A magical power or spell. Yes, I could see this creating magical powers, or in the least, deterring vampires.
And what a perfect winter food! Garlic, full of antimicrobial and immune stimulating sulphur compounds. Parsley, loaded with vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and volatile oils that are anti-cancer. Cilantro, which aside from being strongly antioxidant and rich in phytonutrients, also binds heavy metals like lead and mercury and prevents their absorption. Plus heart healthy monounsaturated olive oil, vitamin C rich lime juice and jalapeño, and digestion enhancing spices. Maybe this truly is a sauce of magical powers!
In any case, it was just the vibrant, pungent, taste-bud enlivening condiment I was seeking, with the added benefit of being a great immune tonic and source of nutrients. A little dollop on fish or pork, a spoonful stirred into squash soup. The possibilities we’re unfolding before my eyes as I peeled garlic cloves and toasted cumin, coriander and star anise seeds in a dry pan. It was fate that my eye then happened upon the sweet potato. I immediately threw a few into the oven wrapped snuggly in foil while I finished chopping the parsley and cilantro.
One hour later, I was seated at the table with a feast for the senses. Warm glowing orange and vibrant green looking up at me; steam carrying a mixture of garlic, toasted spice and lime. I dug in, and while I can’t say for sure, I had the distinct impression that my mojo took a turn for the better.
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Mojo Sauce
- 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 1 green chili, deseeded and chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, star anise and cinnamon
- 1 large handful parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 large handful cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lime
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork or knife, then wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
2. Whiz all the dry ingredients in a food processor or blender, to form a paste. Slowly trickle in the oil until the sauce is creamy and thick, almost like a mayonnaise. Add the lime juice and pour into a bowl.
3. Slice your potatoes in half lengthwise, and lightly mash the insides with a fork, keeping the skins intact. Add a heaping spoonful of mojo sauce and dig in.
Note: You could add a handful of black beans to your sweet potatoes to make this dish into a main course meal.