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Sweet Potato Croquettes with Chipotle Aioli

HLE_Croquettes
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Traditional Spanish croquettes or croquetas are small breadcrumbed potato fritters filled with meat, fish, or cheese. Their crisp golden exteriors yield to the bite to reveal pillowy potato and savory fillings of jamón serrano, cod, shrimp, manchego cheese, and morcilla or blood sausage.

While traveling through Spain a few summers ago, croquettes quickly became one of the most irresistible tapas. Wherever I dined, I ordered a small plate of croquetas. It became a mission to taste as many different kinds of croquettes in as many restaurants as possible. In jamón-obsessed España, this meant trying croquetas de jamón again and again but the repetition hardly affected my enthusiasm. I craved croquettes ceaselessly and still indulge in them from time to time at tapas restaurants in New York.

The beloved breaded potato fritters served in restaurants aren’t the most heart-healthy of noshes, so I’ve created this healthier version. These sweet potato croquettes have all the flavor integrity and crowd-pleasing potential of their traditional counterparts. The smoky chipotle aioli can be dabbed atop or served aside the croquettes.

Since I have had enough ham croquettes for a lifetime, these crispy tapas are filled with veggies, herbs, and cheese. If you find croquetas sin jamón to stray too far from tradition, simply add 1/2 cup of minced jamón serrano or any dried cured ham to your croquette mixture before shaping and baking. Not sure if you want to go rogue? Split the croquette mixture into two bowls and add 1/4 cup of minced ham to one of them.  Shape, bake, and enjoy the best of both mundos! 

Ingredients and Method: (Yields about 12 croquettes)

Croquettes

  • 1 red pepper, finely minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, steamed, and puréed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp manchego or cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of jamón serrano or any dried cured ham, minced (optional)
  • 2 Egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Aioli

  • 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried chipotle powder (add more for smoky heat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the red pepper, yellow onion, and garlic cloves in a dish for about 15-20 minutes, until the red pepper is soft, onion is translucent, and garlic is aromatic. Allow the veggies to cool before combining them with the sweet potato, broccoli, cilantro, and chives in a large bowl. Mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roll mixture into ping pong sized balls or mini log shapes filled with cheese. Dip each croquette in egg yolk. Then coat each croquette gently in whole wheat bread crumbs.

Spray a nonstick baking sheet with oil and place the croquettes on it. Assemble the croquettes on the baking sheet about 1/4 inch apart.

Bake the croquettes in the oven for 15 to 20 mins, or until golden brown, rotating the tray and flipping the croquettes halfway through. While the tapas are baking, make the chipotle aioli by whisking together the yogurt, oil, chipotle, and paprika in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato Croquettes with Chipotle Aioli
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Sweet Potato Croquettes with Chipotle Aioli
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