What’s up with sweet potato toast? (and my healthier version of Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict)

Okay, I have to admit, the first time I heard the term ‘sweet potato toast’ my eyes basically rolled into the back of my head. I’m not a fan of foods pretending to be other foods, ill-conceived culinary trends, or overly restrictive diets. However. However. The concept stuck in my head, basically because: 1) I love sweet potatoes — they are my spirit vegetable — and I will take any excuse to eat more of them; and 2) we’ve been trying to lower our gluten intake and as a result eating less bread, so I thought this could be a fun stand-in. Not to mention that this is a much better option that most of the store-bought gluten-free and ‘paleo’ breads out there that have, on average, 32 ingredients in them, including lots of gums and unpronounceable fillers. I like to focus on real, whole, nutrient-dense foods. So I set my doubts aside and decided to give this sweet potato ‘toast’ thing a try.

The first go was pretty much a fail; an edible fail, but a fail nonetheless. Against my better judgment I went with the dry toaster method (as delicious as it sounds), and the sweet potato turned out dry and leathery. Not exactly what I was going for. Now, I used a toaster oven, not a two-slot toaster — so maybe that was the issue. No big deal — I slapped some avocado, tahini and chile flakes on there and called it a lesson learned. I almost abandoned the idea of sweet potato toast right then and there, but I couldn’t give up quite so easily and decided to give it one more try, this time enlisting the help of my old friends: fat and salt.

Round 2. After brushing the sweet potato slices with coconut oil and giving them a sprinkling of Celtic salt I threw them into the toaster oven (regular oven would be fine, too) on a baking sheet to roast at 400F for 10 minutes, followed by a 2 to 3 minute broil on each side to get them extra crisp and golden brown. This technique was much more successful, yielding crisp slices that indeed resembled toast (I mean, obviously we’re stretching things here, but let’s just go with it), delicate yet sturdy, and even pick-up-able when piled with hefty toppings.

{Another variation: sweet and savory Japanese sweet potato crostini with mashed avocado + strawberries + mint and mint pesto + wild smoked salmon + amaranth sprouts.}

Now that I’ve found a technique that works I’ve been eating sweet potato ‘toast’ essentially every day, and I’m just happy to have yet another excuse to eat my most favorite of root vegetables. My star experiment to date has been using the toasts as the sweet and earthy foundation for a healthier version of eggs Benedict with smoked wild Alaskan salmon, avocado-lime mash, and perfectly poached farm eggs. There’s no Hollandaise involved, but between the creamy, tangy avocado and those delightfully runny yolks, I promise you won’t miss it.

Smoked salmon eggs Benedict with sweet potato toast
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Paleo, Whole30 
Serves 2

I’ve tried this recipe with regular sweet potatoes and with purple-skinned Japanese sweet potatoes. The Japanese sweet potatoes, which have a firmer texture and lower water content, are my favorite for creating a sturdy ‘toast,’ but either will work.

1 sweet potato, sliced lengthwise into four slices approximately 1/4-inch thick (I used a mandolin for this, but a chef’s knife would work, too) (save extra for baking into chips or maybe making more sweet potato toast!)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ripe avocado, pit removed and peeled
juice of 1 lime
2 ounces of smoked salmon (about 8 small slices)
kosher or Celtic salt
freshly ground black pepper
finishing touches: drizzle of good olive oil, thinly sliced scallions or chives, sprouts (I used purple amaranth sprouts)

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F. Brush sweet potato slices with coconut oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Arrange slices on a baking sheet (I prefer to use an unlined stainless steel sheet pan, which produces a crisper edge) and bake for 10 minutes. Switch to broil setting and broil the slices for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and crisp around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly on baking sheet.

Fill a small saucepan with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add vinegar. Break an egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Swirl the simmering water with the handle of a wooden spoon and carefully pour the egg into the center of the vortex. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove egg from water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining eggs.

Mash avocado with lime juice, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

When ready to serve, arrange sweet potato slices on two plates. Spread with mashed avocado and arrange smoked salmon slices on top. Top each with a poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with scallions or chives, sprouts, and a little more salt and pepper.

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