Celebrity Chef: Aaron Sanchez {Roasted Batata Salad with Salsa Verde}

Aaron Sanchez National Restaurant Show

Me with Chef Aaron Sanchez at the 2013 National Restaurant Show – I heart this pic

In clearing out the refrigerator this week, I noticed I still had an entire bunch of cilantro and another of flat-leaf parsley. Just when I thought, “What am I going to do with all of this?”, I remembered a recipe in Chef Aaron Sanchez’s cookbook, Simple Food Big Flavor. He makes a Salsa Verde that’s not a typical tomatillo salsa; it uses cilantro, parsley and oregano which makes it more of a salsa verde chimichurri*, if you will. With Cinco de Mayo approaching, I thought I would go ahead and give this a try.

In Chef Sanchez’s book, he offers his take on flavorful sauce recipes and then suggests several recipes that use that sauce as an ingredient. For his salsa verde, the recipe that peaked my interest was the Roasted Batata Salad with Salsa Verde. Basically, it’s a Mexican style potato salad that uses a tropical sweet potato called batata. However, you can use whatever potato variety you like. I chose garnet yams but sweet potatoes, russets or a mix can also be substituted. Get creative!

*If you don’t know, chimichurri is an oily sauce usually served beef and often found in Argentinian cooking. It’s usually made with chopped parsley, garlic, oil, oregano and vinegar along with added spices. Red versions can have added tomato and red bell pepper. Aside from being a sauce, chimichurri also makes a great marinade.

Aaron Sanchez Roasted Batata Salad

With warmer days approaching, I have been searching for more salads (grain, veggie, otherwise) that do not contain heavy mayonnaise bases. This salad fits the bill perfectly! I served ours over seasoned chicken breast but it would go great with almost anything or even as a vegetarian dish by itself. The only thing I did different from the recipe was adding a chunk of sweet onion to the puree. We like onion in everything. Our son sort of halfway likes sweet potatoes so he recommended using russets on the next round. I was surprised to see the potatoes not soaking up the sauce which left the salad a bit oily. Next time, I think I’ll cut down on the oil or just add more herbs and less sauce to the overall product.

By the way, it was SUCH a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with Chef Aaron; he beyond friendly and so much fun. While other kids were out with friends and running the streets, Aaron Sanchez grew up spending time cooking in the kitchen with his mother, Zarela Martinez. As an adult, he realizes the importance of those moments and now strives to keep culture alive in everyone’s kitchens. “All I knew was that I wanted to create the kind of joy that the women in my life created, but I knew I had to carve out my own path,” says Sanchez.

One Response to Celebrity Chef: Aaron Sanchez {Roasted Batata Salad with Salsa Verde}
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