Vegetable Salad (Serenata)

[Un]Happy Krampusnacht! Since it’s a holiday, I chose to post a salad with a festive name: serenata (serenade, as a the serenade of flavors). This dish is part of La Cocina de Leslie’s Food of the Month Club. Be sure to check out all the side dish submissions December 15.

Vegetable Salad (Serenata)

Choose two or more of these (1 lb. each, boiled and diced): green banana, plantain, yuca, yautía, malanga, potato, batata boniato, breadfruit, yam (ñame), common sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), pumpkin, and/or squash (The most commonly used for serenata are potatoes and yuca, in which case you would use 1 lb. of red potatoes and 1 lb. or yuca. I used 1 lb. russet potato and 1 lb. common sweet potato.)

Basic vinaigrette

Spanish sweet onion 1 large: peeled

Red bell peppers 2, washed, stemmed, and seeded

Cherry or grape tomatoes, washed 26

Avocado 2, diced

1. In a blender, blend the vinaigrette with the onion and bell pepper. Use that as the salad dressing. If the taste if too strong for you (it is for me), mix it with 1 cup of mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise.

2. Stir dressing immediately before serving.

Salad DressingRoot Vegetable Salad


Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Doughnuts (Picarones)

(Un)Happy Day of the Dead!! This recipe is part of the Food of the Month Club, whose ingredient this month is pumpkin. Pumpkin is my absolute favorite vegetable (probably because technically it’s a fruit), so check out the round-up on November 15!

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Doughnuts (Picarones)

Pumpkin 1/2 lb

Sweet potato (common sweet potato aka Ipomoea batatas) 1/2 lb

Cinnamon Syrup/Miel de Chancaca (Click for my recipe.)

Canola oil for frying

Flour 3 cups plus more for kneading

Active dry yeast 3 tbsp

Milk 1/4 cup

Egg 1

Brown sugar 4 1/2 cups (more or less, as desired)

Butter 4 tbsp for glaze

Anise extract 1/2 tsp

1. In a bowl, mix the yeast into the milk until all the yeast is wet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes so that the yeast sets. You want to refrigerate it because it contains milk.

2. Wash the pumpkin, slice it, and boil it in water on medium heat, until it is soft enough to peel off the rind. You don’t need the fibrous strands and the seeds for this recipe, but I recommend that you set them aside for a different recipe.

3. Wash the sweet potato. Microwave it for 2 minutes and check its softness. Keep microwaving it for 2 minute periods until the inside is as soft as mashed potatoes (it took me 8 minutes). When it is soft enough, scoop the insides out of the skin.

4. When the yeast is done setting, and the pumpkin and sweet potato are ready, mix in the pumpkin, sweet potato, and anise extract. Slowly mix in the flour. Slowly add the sugar, adjusting it as desired. Then slowly mix in the egg.

5. Once mixed, lay the dough on a floured wax paper surface. Put gloves on and knead until every inch of the dough is dry instead of sticky. The first time I made these, I focused on the outside of the dough, and realized that, once the dough expanded, the sticky insides got all over the towel I covered the dough with.

6. When the dough is no longer sticky, leave it on the wax paper and cover with a dampened towel. Make sure the towel is large enough to cover twice the size of the dough. Do not refrigerate the dough. Let sit for 3 hours. You can let it sit longer, but know that it will continue to expand.

7. Shape doughnuts into doughnut-shape, wetting the dough slightly if it is too dry to be pliable.

8. Melt the butter in a microwave. With a pastry brush (I recommend silicone.), spread the melted butter over the doughnuts so that they don’t come apart.

9. Heat the oil in a pan. When heated, add doughnuts. Don’t crowd them or else the oil temperature will go down and the doughnuts will get too greasy. Fry them one at a time if you need to. Fry doughnuts until golden. The insides should be soft, like fresh-baked bread. Squeeze out the excess oil with paper towels.

10. Drizzle cinnamon syrup/miel de chancaca on top.