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Salt Roasted Baby Yam Medley and Grilled Veggies

By Dennis Linden
Image of Salt Roasted Baby Yam Medley and Grilled Veggies
Here’s a tasty way to enjoy Melissa’s entire collection of baby yam varieties on one plate, submitted by Carlos Preciado of our Retail Marketing Team, using his version of salt roasting. This ancient culinary technique has been used for centuries throughout the Mediterranean to keep fish flaky and moist. And in China, for more than 2,000 years, chickens have been roasted by burying them in hot salt. Salt roasting is experiencing new popularity, especially amongst culinary professionals looking to offer their patrons something different. There are many ways to cook with salt. As a serious home chef who enjoys the creativity and relaxation that his kitchen offers, Carlos added his twist to the traditional method. Instead of making a salt-crusted shell with egg whites to encase the baby yams, he uses two separate salting applications to draw out flavor. First, he coats the yams with olive oil and Himalayan salt; then, he roasts the yams on a bed of kosher salt.

“At one time, I wanted to be like my culinary idol, Jet Tila, the world-renowned chef, culinary entrepreneur and star on the Food Network,” admitted Carlos, explaining. “He is a master with ingredients, flavors and creations that inspire me to cook every time I watch his show. I love the way he pairs ingredients together so perfectly that you can watch his guests’ eyes widen as their palates explode with unexpected flavors. That always makes me want to head to the kitchen and cook. This recipe came immediately after one of his inspiring viewings.”

Since this was my first time salt roasting anything, Carlos’s word “unexpected” in describing his favorite chef’s flavors fits my reaction to this dish well. The surprise – the yams had taken on a subtle, very pleasant salty-sweetness that I had not expected. Actually, “salty” is too strong of a connotation. “Salt-like sweetness” would be better—nothing overpowering, with just a hint of rosemary aroma that enhanced the taste ever so slightly. Again, the best description I can come up with is unexpectedly pleasant. Try it!

Of course, Melissa’s flavorful collection of baby yams – garnets, jewels and Japanese – provide a tasty basis for any recipe with or without salt! Baby Jewel yams have a deep orange moist interior that is firm and slightly sweet wrapped in copper-colored skin. The sweeter Baby Garnet yam has an orange-yellow interior with more water content than the jewel, encased in a light red-purple-colored skin. Baby Japanese yams are quite sweet, have a creamy white interior and a nutty flavor that tastes somewhat like a roasted chestnut. The texture is drier, firmer, and starchier than the other two with red-colored skin.

Carlos presents these three tasty varieties on a vibrant bed of four-color grilled bell peppers, yellow and green summer squash with added flavor support from a Perfect Sweet onion. Just a simple sauté with olive oil and accented with a dash of Melissa’s Grinder Seasonings of choice – I used Rainbow Peppercorns and Italian Seasoning just to add a little perk to the veggies. No salt!
Image of Guest Chef - Carlos Preciado
After a 23-year career with a major chain store in the Southern California area, Carlos Preciado joined Melissa's team. He brought extensive retail experience and perspective that has served him well in his role working with the company’s retail clients.

“My daily role is to represent Melissa’s to our customers in such a way that helps align our business with theirs to drive sales and margins,” Carlos explained. “It can be challenging at times to convince some retailers of our programs, though that is also what keeps the job interesting. My favorite part is educating our customers on how to present a program at the store level to entice their consumers to make that coveted impulse buy. While almost anyone can set up a retail product display, no one does it better and more effectively than Melissa’s merchandising team! The dynamic pace inherent in the business of fresh produce distribution and the daily problem solving required, both with other team members and clients, is very stimulating and extremely rewarding professionally. I am very lucky to be able to say that I look forward to coming to work every day.”

These days, a similar pace of working in the produce industry continues at home as Carlos and fiancé Shauna enjoy the energy and daily joy of raising their 18-month-old son, Heath. Plus, they have two other household members who Carlos says keeps him almost busier than the baby—their two canine “kids” [French Bulldogs]. They don’t get along, vie for attention, and constantly must be separated—something many of us multiple pet owners can empathize with! The proud father also has two older children – a son and daughter, both in their twenties, who are successful [employed!].

Carlos enjoys hiking, biking, and working out regularly for pleasure, health, and peace for mind and body. His passion for cooking focuses on creating healthy dishes using fresh ingredients whenever possible. A good example is this recipe below, where a lot of salt surrounds the yams and is then brushed off rather than sprinkled into them – heart and palate-friendly!

Salt-Roasted Baby Yams over Grilled Veggies
Serves 6
Image of ingredients for Salt Roasted Baby Yam Medley and Grilled Veggies
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small Melissa’s Organic Baby Garnet Yams
2 small Melissa’s Organic Baby Jewel Yams
2 small Melissa’s Organic Baby Japanese Yams
¾ cup Himalayan salt
2 cups coarse sea salt
5 to 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 each red, yellow, orange and green bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips
1 yellow straight neck squash, sliced into rounds and half-rounds
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds and half-rounds
1 Perfect Sweet Onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Melissa’s Rainbow Peppercorn Grinder, to taste
Melissa’s Italian Seasonings Grinder, to taste

Preparation
Image of coating sweet potatoes
Leaving the skin on, brush each baby yam generously with olive oil, then roll in Himalayan salt to coat.
Image of Yams on baking pan
Spread the sea salt evenly in the bottom of a 9”x13” baking pan, then nestle each yam in the salt and distribute the sprigs of rosemary around the yams. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes or until the skins begin to wrinkle. Note: Baby yams will cook much quicker than regular-sized yams.
Image of bell pepper cut into strips
While the yams are roasting, trim the top and bottoms off the bell peppers and then slice the walls of each pepper into 2-inch strips. Prep the squash and onion.
Image of veggies in bowl
Place the bell pepper strips, sliced squash and onion into a large bowl, toss with olive oil and any favorite combination of Melissa’s Spice Grinders until thoroughly coated. Transfer to a large sauté pan and cook until slightly charred and cooked through.

Plating: Brush the salt off the cooked yams, then cut them into bite-sized medallions, leaving the skin on. Place a serving of the veggies in the center of the plate and top with the medallions. Garnish with a spring of rosemary.
Image of Salt Roasted Baby Yam Medley and Grilled Veggies
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