Sweet potato cakes with ratatouille

Week two and I have already exhausted quite a few of my staple dishes, so here is a new one I tried out today. The recipe for the sweet potato cakes comes from ‘The Food Watch Cookbook’ by H. J. Campbell, but the recipe for the ratatouille is my own.  Feel free to play around with it - all vegetables are fine, just remember that some might take longer to cook than others. As for the seasonings, I just opened up my cupboard and added a little bit of this and that. I love strong flavours, so always add cumin, chili powder or cayenne pepper to any tomato-based sauces I’m making. If you’re cooking for a crowd it would be great to add in some fresh herbs as well e.g. basil, parsley, oregano or thyme. Let me just say, these were SO good :) And I indulged in some Tesco Finest caramelised red onion chutney to serve with the potato cakes - the flavours work wonderfully together!

Rataouille (makes 3-4 portions as a side dish, probably 2-3 portions as a main with some beans added in):

- 1 aubergine
- 1 courgette
- ½ onion
- ½ red pepper
- olive oil
- 1 packet of button mushrooms
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- black pepper
- dried herbs
- mild chili powder
- splash of soy sauce + balsamic vinegar

Sweet potato cakes (makes 2):
- 1 medium sweet potato
- salt + pepper
- handful of pecan nuts (and/or walnuts)
- flour

- Roughly chop the onion and dice the aubergine, courgette and red pepper.
- Place in a large pan, add a good splash of olive oil, and cook on a high heat. Stir. If the vegetables start to stick to the bottom, add a little more olive oil as required. 
- Leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Peel the sweet potato, cut into small chunks and add to the boiling water. On a high heat the potato will cook in about 8 minutes. 
- Chop the mushrooms and break the pecan nuts into small pieces.
- Check that the vegetables are tender, then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Then add the chopped tomatoes, black pepper, dried herbs, chili powder, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Reduce the heat and leave the ratatouille to cook for another 10 minutes, or until your sweet potato cakes are ready.
- Check that the sweet potato is tender and cooked through. Drain and mash with a fork.
- Add the pecan nuts, salt and pepper to the potato and mix together. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
- Dust some flour onto a chopping board, split the potato mixture into two and shape each half into a round pattie .
- Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the sweet potato cakes and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side (you might want to check there’s enough oil when you turn them, as mine ended up a little crispy on the second side!)
- Enjoy!

Rossana Podestà on Flickr.

French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 38. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Italian sex siren Rossana Podestà (1934) played in many European films of the 1950’s and 1960’s. She is best known as the stunningly beautiful leading lady of the international spectacle Helen of Troy (1956).